5:4 - Tarab Cuts review
Bristol New Music 2014

John Butcher and Mark Sanders

It was followed by an equally dazzling performance from saxophonist John Butcher & percussionist Mark Sanders, in Butcher's new work Tarab Cuts.
The piece takes its point of origin from a vast collection of 78rpm recordings of pre-1930s Arabic classical music (owned by Lebanese musician Kamal Kassar). Excerpts from these records are used initially as springboards for the duo's lengthy improvisations, but gradually the live & pre-recorded elements became ever more integrated, united in a furiously passionate celebration of tarab.
That word, hard to define succinctly in English, connotes among other things a kind of 'musical ecstasy', & that quality was certainly evident in the duo's material; indeed, there were times when the level of virtuosity almost became a hindrance, so jaw-dropping were Sanders' unstoppable gymnastics in & around his array of drums, bowls & gongs, & Butcher's breathtaking (literally-i've never seen such flawless circular breathing) seemingly endless cascades of melody

© Simon Cummings / 5:4