• 1. HEAVY MERGE (19:57)
  • 2. BELAYED (13:16)
  • 3. BUFFET BALLS (05:01)
  • 4. BEYOND HEADLINES (07:05)
  • 5. CLIMATE CHANGE (22:01)

The Scenic Route

Guitar – John Russell
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – John Butcher
Violin – Phil Durrant

Most of two concert performances by this exceptional all acoustic saxophone / violin / guitar trio, featuring somewhat longer and sparser improvisations that on their previous issues. 67 minutes.

Excerpts from sleeve notes:
This trio has been one of the finest improvising groups around since its formation in 1984. It has not been a full time group, as each of its members also performs in various combinations with a plethora of other musicians. However, every time it does get together, it produces music of the highest order.

This is the third published recording of the trio (as a trio without other musicians, that is). The previous ones were CONCEITS recorded in 1987, and CONCERT MOVES from 1991 and 1992, so a new recording is overdue. Comparison of the three releases would seem to suggest that the music is getting sparser, and almost sedate. Paradoxically, it is also getting more playful, with more risks being taken now that the group no longer has to prove itself.

An example of this is CLIMATE CHANGE - a complete piece recorded at a Mopomoso gig at the Red Rose in London. The atmosphere was highly strung immediately before the music started, resulting in a considerable amount of tension on the stand. In many bands, this situation would result in the musicians trying to outplay each other. Instead, these musicians appear to be under-playing each other - an extreme example of a way of working that was developed by others over thirty years ago.

The rest of this CD is taken up with the trio's superb appearance at the Musique Action '98 Festival in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy a few weeks later. The first two pieces performed, HEAVY MERGE and BELAYED, are included here complete, and can be said to be textbook examples of how three strong individuals can improvise as a group. They are also, perhaps, definitive performances by this trio.

The third piece showed another approach often used by the trio - a sequence of four short improvised duos and a solo. Most of these are heard here as BUFFET BALLS. The fourth and final piece of the set is just represented by its ending - BEYOND HEADLINES.

The music included here from these two concerts goes to show that this trio is as good as ever, if not better. One looks forward with confidence and anticipation to further performances of at least the same excellence.

Album label: 
Release date: 
01.01 / 1998
Recording date: 
22.05 / 1998
Recording location: 
1-4 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy; 5 London (March 15)
Artwork design : Martin Davidson
Mastering engineer : Martin Davidson
Recording engineer : Francois Cacic, Francois Dietz, Martin Davidson

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