Recorded (June 30, 1998), mixed and mastered by Myles Boisen at Guerrilla. Recording and Headless Buddha Mastering Lab, Oakland, Ca.
John Butcher, one of the most original saxophone voices of the day, joined here in good company by Gino Robair and Matthew Sperry. Never content with simply being an exercise in pushing the capabilities of their instruments beyond the parameters of established technique, the music here is also deeply fascinating and breathtaking too. No lavish ornamentation, but twelve statements of exuberance given momentum by a subtle delicacy.
What the critics are saying:
*** —Penguin Guide to Jazz on cd Seventh Edition
"Though this is definitely a group music, saxophonist Butcher is the conspicuous lead voice. Trilling, slap-tonguing, split notes and multiphonics combine in his most unsaxophone-like vocabulary. Percussionist Robair has become increasingly minimal, using a variety of supplementary wood and metal objects as much as the regular drum heads and cymbals, rolling many different timbres into a single musical gesture. Both Robair and his fellow Bay Area resident Sperry, integrate thenselves in the responsive interplay and moment-to-moment forward thrust of this delicately charged music. So well integrated are they, that they sound more like a regular group than a one-off cross-Atlantic collaboration."
—Phil England, The Wire
"Preeminently group music, 12 Milagritos gives the saxophonist the proper canvas on which to express his reed brush strokes. Not that he's the only artist here. Like sculptor's associates who simultaneously work on different parts of a statue to produce the three-dimensional representation, each man contributes to the concoction, negating the hierarchical concept of soloist with rhythm section. Often the result is one of those improvisations where the precise sound source for many notes is difficultto determine. Most of the 12 pieces unroll at a frantic speed, yet with every gesture microscopically clear."
—Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly
"Saxophonist John Butcher's style can be recognized in a flash. The split tones, slap tonguing, jabs, and spurts are remarkably idiosyncratic. They are also remarkably good, even if they tend to be predictable. His trio with percussionist Gene Robair and bassist Matthew Sperry is a finely oiled unit, utterly subversive, powerful, and unique. On the singular "Nervio," Butcher's saxophone pounds energetically against an underbelly of scratchy string bass, leading to a held tone building tension, and never really releasing it. This is followed by the sprightly "Labio," with its disjointed clipped phrasing. And so on. This release has the advantage of 12 tracks, ranging in length from one to eight minutes, each of which is sufficiently different to keep the listener's interest. This is noise/improvisation at its best, logically developed and touching a plethora of moods and textures. The bassist shows spectacular form, with studied intervallic leaps, and horn-like runs, though nothing on the recording is closely related to any sort of common improvisatory strategy. Here is music that soars in its own way, oblivious to the world, yet forging new perspectives that sound a cry for freedom. Butcher and his colleagues seem to hear the notes differently than anyone else on the planet, forging new traditions, and sputtering a fresh dynamic. "
—Steve Loewy, All Music Guide