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© Keiko Yoshida: orkney mainland, scotland 2006.

Winter Gardens | Bell Trove Spools | Resonant Spaces | The Geometry of Sentiment | Horn_Bill
Cavern with Nightlife | Invisible Ear | Fixations (14) | London & Cologne | 13 Friendly Numbers | Trace

Solo Flights - Bill Shoemaker / Jazz Times
Resonant Spaces - Biba Kopf / WIRE - (photos)

I first played solo, a short piece, not a concert, in 1982 at the Workers' Music Association in Notting Hill Gate.
To quote from a 1998 Rubberneck piece:

"After a few concerts I'd learnt a lot about making connections - but had also noticed recognisable pieces beginning to develop. I quite liked this, but worried about what it meant for long-term solo work. For a while, I almost envied composers; able to wrap up a piece, send it out into the world, and move on to the next. But a lot of the pleasure in giving solo concerts is connected to the hope of finding, spontaneously, some music you didn’t really know about beforehand. Playing ‘pieces’ is too close to playing ‘routines’ and a concert is an opportunity for much more. As a live performer, improvising usually just feels better - less acting, less theatre, and more chance for a little magic. By way of a bonus, this means engaging with what Derek Bailey has described as a ‘search for whatever is endlessly variable’.
However, a considerable attraction of solo playing is that you have full control. You can work with material that may be too inflexible for the push and pull of group improvising; you can plan ahead, you can attempt pieces that have a definite, sustained, flavour - that adhere to some concept.”

Unblown Feedback-Tenor

feedback sax
© osamu enomoto - plan B, tokyo.
Whilst this is still close to my feelings about giving solo concerts - another other side of solo work has been to develop compositional ideas for CD: from the 1992 multitracks on Thirteen Friendly Numbers to the microphone-based work on Invisible Ear.

These ideas have fed into live concerts in the form of feedback-saxophone, close-miking and compositional stratergies.
One aspect was explored in 2010 with Stephen Moore, who produced a Max/MSP patch to attempt live multitracking work via 15 speakers, at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn (reviewed here).

Site-Specific Solos

john butcher stone museum concert photo
Oya Stone Museum, Japan                                       ©osamu enomoto
Since 2002 I have also had the opportunity to create solos specifically for large/unusual or especially characteristic acoustic spaces.
Two concerts/recordings have been released from inside the giant Oya Stone Mountain in Utsunomiya, Japan.

Resonant Spaces was a 2006 Arika tour in Scotland and the Orkneys which visited sites specially chosen for their extraordinary acoustics.
Later that year I played, for Resonance FM, in Oberhausen's famous 200m gazometer.


In 2010 these ideas were continued at artist James McGee's The Hill in the West Texas Desert near El Paso.
A recent site-specific work (WIRE review here) was in the medieval vaults of Southampton, UK - organised by Bang the Bore.

Winter Gardens

winter gardens
order LP from kukuruku.
In concert - London and Milwaukee 2011. (Vinyl LP)

saxophones (acoustic and feedback)

all about jazz | still single | Boston Hassle | le son du grisli | The Watchful Ear
Musicworks | Free Jazz

Bell Trove Spools

On Northern Spy - Cover: Philip Marshall

Tenor solos: Dan Flavin Gallery, Houston - 2010
Soprano solos: Issue Project Room, Brooklyn - 2011

tiny mix tapes | burning ambulance | all about jazz (1) / (2) | London Jazz
freq | The Watchful Ear | Point of Departure

Resonant Spaces

Location recordings from Scotland and the Orkney Islands (2006)

Acoustic and amplified/feedback saxophone

Sleeve notes: Biba Kopf

WIRE | Dusted | Neue Zeitschrift für Musik | Point of Departure | all about jazz

Everything about this release is beautiful and intriguing:
the music, the packaging, the photographs, the notes and the story they tell.

The Geometry of Sentiment

john butcher solo cd
order CD via Emanem
Live in Japan (2004) and Europe (2006)

Acoustic and amplified/feedback saxophone

Sleeve notes: Stuart Broomer

all about jazz 1 | all about jazz 2 | Dusted | exclaim


horn_bill cover
order CD via Matchless
One of 5 solos from this all reed ONGAKU concert.

John Butcher
Nathaniel Catchpole
Kai Fagaschinski
Lou Gare
Evan Parker
Seymour Wright

KFJC | bagatellen | jazz word

Cavern with Nightlife

Live in Japan (2002)

Solo inside the Oya Stone mountain.
+ Duo with Toshimaru Nakimura (no-input mixing desk).

WIRE | Dusted | One Final Note | Sandszine

Invisible Ear

Reissue of the long out-of-print 2003 fringes edition.

Saxophones: acoustic, close-miked, amplified, feedbacking, solo, multitracked.

Sleeve notes: David Toop

Musicworks | Stylus | Dusted | Squid's Ear | Paris Transatlantic | all about jazz
Cyclic Defrost | the Jazz Mann

Fixations (14)

fixations cover
order CD via Emanem.
Live in USA and Europe (1997-2000)

allmusic | Jazz Times

London & Cologne

Live solos (1994-1996) - plus one studio multitrack.


13 Friendly Numbers

13 friendly numbers cover Saxophone solos and multitracks (1991 reissued 2004)

Paris Transatlantic | Dusted | MOJO | Penguin guide to Jazz | BBC


john butcher cassette cover
Trace (cassette)

Side A: Solo saxophone concert: Paris, 2009
Side B: Studio recording for saxophone controlled feedback and piano: London, 2010
Limited Edition of 250.


SOLD OUT: But now available for free streaming at the WIRE.