Album reviews

John Butcher, Pat Thomas, Dominic Lash, Steve Noble – ‘Fathom Parts 1, 2 and 3’

John Butcher, Pat Thomas, Dominic Lash, Steve Noble Fathom Parts 1, 2 and 3 
(577 Records. Album Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

577 Records is a Brooklyn, New York based label formed by Italian drummer Federico Ughi who, on moving to New York, quickly got to know veteran improviser Daniel Carter.  Together they set up a series of concerts in Ughi’s base at 577 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn.  This led to the establishment of a very active 577 label which is enabled to be quite so active as the result of the support of a sponsor.

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The label focuses on the experimental end of jazz and improvised music, and has a particular interest in the UK improv scene, putting out several albums by Paul Dunmall, Rachel Musson, Pat Thomas as well as individual albums by N.O. Moore, Alex Ward, John Edwards, Phil Minton and Mark Sanders’ recent album with his CollapseUncollapse trio.

Feather is saxophonist John Butcher’s debut album for the label and he is joined on it by pianist Pat Thomas, bass player Dominic Lash and drummer Steve Noble. The recording was made in October 2021 at Cafe Oto in London with Shaun Crook as engineer and mixed and mastering were done at Sear Sounds in NYC.

It is an impressive set of totally improvised music, a continuous set divided up into three different parts of varying length for the purposes of the issue. The music is definitely improvised music rather than free jazz; there are no elements of jazz language, and no hints of Coltrane or Coleman. 

This is music that is interested in sounds, e.g. the breathy sound, squeaks and growls of the tenor and soprano saxophone that Butcher plays, the scraping of the drums and the double bass.  It proceeds through what we might call a series of episodes that frequently change direction as the players pick up ideas from the others. It often breaks down into solo or duo passages.  Nonetheless, the music flows extremely well, and there is frequently a pulse to it.  Thomas acts as a kind of benevolent disruptor, sometimes taking the music off into a different direction, at others supporting the lines of the saxophone, or interacting with the bass and drums. It is all completely absorbing.

Release Date 15 September

LINK: 577 Records Bandcamp – available on CD, vinyl or digital
LJN’s archive of 15+ articles about John Butcher

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