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Music Sound and the fury


Charmed quarks

British avant-garde sax player John Butcher once devoted his doctoral studies to quantum physics, which is oddly fitting because Butcher delights in breaking music down to its subatomic particles.

SA Current Online

Sound and the fury
A week on the scene
Whether performing alone or with a small combo, he constantly explores the boundaries of what a single horn instrument can produce. A perfect example can be found on the solo improvisational suite that includes "First Bottle," "Second Bottle," "Third Bottle," and "Last Bottle" from his 2001 collection Fixations (14). On these tracks, Butcher's sax growls, squawks, honks, and tweets like a full-scale barnyard riot (or maybe a San Antonio mayoral debate). Along the way, he'll convince you that he's playing multiple notes - if not multiple instruments - at the same time.

Sanford Allen, guitarist for Boxcar Satan, is bringing Butcher to town for a performance that will include support help from Austin drummer Chris Cogburn and Houston trombonist Dave Dove. Butcher's trio will perform at the Wiggle Room (2301 S. Presa) on Sunday, April 24 at 8 p.m. Cover is $8.

Jazz purr-mutations

New Austin combo Hurts to Purr - playing Friday at Luna Fine Music Club - may have a funny name, but they boast a pedigree you can't put down: Bassist Tom Benton also plucks strings for skronky jazz group the Blue Noise Band, while drummer Jeremy Bruch sidelines with the Latin dance sensation Grupo Fantasma.

This trio, though, sounds nothing like its cousins: Bruch and Benton serve the talents of singer/songwriter Liz Pappademas, whose late-night alto wouldn't sound out of place opening for Norah Jones. (That's just what she did last year.) Before they had a name, the group put out an EP last year. It was lovely, but a sampler from their upcoming full-length disc demonstrates a lot of growth: The instrumentalists are adding lush and imaginative texture to the singer's piano work, and Pappademas' songwriting is getting more distinctive. "Matinee," for instance, takes a universal but little-heralded joy - skipping out of a day's work to go to the movies by yourself - and captures exactly the kind of leisurely soul-searching that a good day of hooky often accompanies.

There's a love story in "Matinee" too, which is a good spot to point out how sexy Hurts to Purr's music is; like another sometime attraction at Luna, Pappademas' friend Seela of Torch, Hurts to Purr is rediscovering the intimate pleasures that fit so well in loungey bars.

Compiled by Gilbert Garcia and John DeFore

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