John Butcher

John Butcher

John Butcher is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness  of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. His well received “Resonant Spaces” CD is a collection of site-specific performances recorded during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.

Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, John Stevens’ SME, Polwechsel, Eddie Prévost, Rhodri Davies, Akio Suzuki, Matt Shipp, Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Gino Robair, Fred Frith, Mark Sanders, Okkyung Lee, The Contest of Pleasures and Gerry Hemingway.

Recent compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions for his own groups, “Good Liquor…” for the London Sinfonietta and “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music which was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.

Alongside long term projects he values occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Steve Beresford, David Toop, Keiji Haino, Otomo Yoshihide, Kaja Draxler, Slåle Liavik Solberg, John Tilbury and Joe McPhee.


English saxophonist John Butcher may be among the world’s most influential musicians, operating at the cutting-edge of improvisatory practice since the ‘80s. Whenever an acoustic musician starts to sound like a bank of oscillators, a tropical forest, a brook or an insect factory, Butcher’s influence is likely nearby.
New York City Jazz Record.

John Butcher is without question the most jaw-dropping technician we’ve ever heard wielding a tenor, equally capable of brawny assault and textural meditations at the very edge of audibility. What makes him so compelling, though, is the taste and poetry behind everything he does.”
Time Out - New York.

“Extraordinarily powerful, Butcher’s soprano may test the limits of one’s ear to make sense of the close and complex relationships that are put forth, but there’s an undeniable emotional depth and sheer beauty in his work that supersedes technicality and concept.”
Tiny Mix Tapes.

"It was one of the most shocking performances I've ever seen in my life. There's this absolute balance between total commitment to the sound that he's making and openness to anything that could happen. He's taking this instrument that has limitations and forcing it into those places where he is in direct negotiation with those limitations. It was one the best concerts I've ever seen. Totally crushing."
WIRE. (John Dietrich at All Tomorrow's Parties.)

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John Butcher by Andy Moor

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