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John Butcher
When I enrolled in band class in junior high, our director spent one introductory day talking about the sounds each instrument makes. Talking about the saxophone's versatility, he played us a number of recordings where saxes sounded like other instruments, forcing us to guess which was a sax and which wasn't. If he had owned John Butcher's solo album, Fixations, he really could have blown our minds: On "Second Bottle," the London improvisor does a remarkable job of imitating a mosquito. (And as our band class was being conducted on the Texas Gulf Coast, we had plenty of experience with that sound.)

Elsewhere on Fixations, Butcher spends three minutes pushing air through his mouthpiece without generating an audible tone, letting the airstream's strength build until a drone emerges, then producing a reedy quaver above that. It's like Tuvan throat singing, free-jazz style. His experiments in restraint


Monday, September 22
Robert Tatum's 811
Art Lounge
811 S. Flores
will come as a shock to listeners who associate tenor saxes with walls of sound and manly wails.

Monday, September 22, Butcher will swing through San Antonio on his way home from Austin's Cinematexas-sponsored Eye + Ear festival, bringing with him two fellow improvising musicians. Guitarist Andy Moor is a member of the long-lived Dutch experimental punk band The Ex; Kaffe Matthews, another Londoner, was trained as a violinist but now uses an array of electronic devices to create improvised atmospheres. Some time back, Matthews started creating location-specific sound devices built into chairs or strung up in open landscapes. As she is working this week in a particularly muggy Texas September, maybe she can make John Butcher's saxophone mosquito feel right at home. •

More by John DeFore



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