John Butcher | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

John Butcher 

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English soprano and tenor saxophonist John Butcher drew from a pair of 2002 concerts in Japan to make his splendid new album, Cavern With Nightlife (the first on his new label, Weight of Wax), which shows his skillful responsiveness to different surroundings. He had never played with no-input mixing board player Toshimaru Nakamura until their set at Tokyo nightspot SuperDeluxe, but the two improvised a marvelously suspenseful and coherent dialogue; Butcher matched Nakamura's piercing tendrils of feedback with abraded hisses and long, burred tones. The second part of the disc is taken from a set at the Oya Stone Museum in Utsunomiya, and though Butcher was unaccompanied you could still argue it's an ensemble piece. He played in a vast cavern hollowed out of soft lava rock, which functioned like an echo chamber; he adjusted his playing so that his notes were framed by the reports of those preceding it and created eerie harmonies with the echoes. This show is a dual record-release party for Cavern With Nightlife and Fred Lonberg-Holm's solo album, Dialogs (Emanem), which is filled with some often contentious back-and-forths between the local cellist and his instrument. Butcher and Lonberg-Holm have recorded and played together in different group contexts, but they've performed only once before as a duo; they'll play separately and together tonight. Thu 4/21, 9:30 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland, 773-862-3616, $5-$10 donation.

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