Way Out Northwest

[Drip Audio, www.dripaudio.com]

  Almost quarter century in existence, Vancouver's Coastal Jazz and Blues Society has over its lifetime presented dozens of collaborative firsts.  No different than anything else they've done, "Way Out Northwest" is the first time saxophonist John Butcher teamed up with Vancouver-based bassist Torsten Muller and percussionist Dylan van der Schyff.  Recorded during last year's Vancouver Jazz Festival at the Western Front, the album sets a high standard for improvised music that is vital and fresh.  Butcher is his usual monster-self on both tenor and soprano.  Alleviating any allusions that he may be tiring in his methodology, he out-does himself and blows steam on every one of the six pieces presented.  On "magic CloCK machine", he contorts his horn and delivers gentle glissandi that are warped up by Muller's bass sliding arco.  While van der Schyff is a powerful enough drummer, it's his inventions on the cymbals and scrapes on sides of his toms that do it for me.  In fact, if there's anything I wish for more in this session is to hear more of a relaxed van der Schyff.  It's still great to hear he allows the other two players plenty of breathing space and backs off when needed.  Excellent session - one that is well balanced and evenly paced - one where communication is kept at the front of everyone's minds at all times.  

Tom Sekowski

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