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September 19th, 2017


John Butcher - Willow Shiver

When it comes to the list of saxophone innovators I feel like John Butcher is someone who tends to be forgotten about. And that is, if you forgive me for saying so, crazy. No he didn't introduce plastic instruments, no he didn't work with monstrously tough reeds. Even if he had, he's never had the opportunity, never had the popularity to demonstrate just how radical he is. The fact is, I'm not sure that there is anyone alive who understands the saxophone as well as Butcher. Maybe some of the craftspeople who design and built instruments, maybe. But amongst his fellow players, Butcher is without peers.

Willow Shiver comes from his 2012 album Bell Trove Spools. It's recorded with the microphone actually inside the bell of his sax. There's no air involved at all: all the sounds come from Butcher tapping the keys and the body of the instrument, and from the swell of feedback that live amplification allows. It's as if he's mapping it, using sound to describe the interior. The music's the thing though: this isn't just some dry artistic exercise, it's also a enthralling listen.

John Butcher - Willow Shiver