How Does This Happen?

John Butcher, Philippe Lauzier, Éric Normand

Undoubtedly one of the most successful encounters Québécois have had with a British citizen since 1759 Jazz Word, Canada

Et c’est de ce jeu de miroirs inversés que naît toute l’activité du trio, qui n’essaie pas de nous mentir en simulant une osmose originelle, mais préfère inventer un langage propre adapté à la situation. Revue & Corrigée, France

En avril 2018 le duo Not The Music composé d’Éric Normand et Philippe Lauzier, invite dans le cadre d’une tournée canadienne, le saxophoniste anglais John Butcher à se joindre à eux. Un concert à Montréal à la Galerie B-312 et un autre à Ottawa au General Assembly, forment le matériel de ce nouvel album d’improvisation. Dans un calme pas si calme, comme sur un territoire désaffecté, en fissurage et dans le désordre des éléments, les trois protagonistes font évoluer un environnement sonore qui s’entrechoque et se relance dans des variations d’intensités. La concentration en équilibre et le contraste des individualités, font que cette rencontre est heureuse sans que l’on comprenne ce qui s’est passé…

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Ken Waxman, Jazz Word, 24 juillet 2019

Undoubtedly one of the most successful encounters Québécois have had with a British citizen since 1759, this live CD captures the close musical cooperation among London-based tenor and soprano saxophonist John Butcher, Montréal-based bass clarinetist Philippe Lauzier and electric bassist Éric Normand from Rimouski. With Lauzier and Normand part of a contingent of forward-looking local players who have forged international connections, How Does This Happen’s two five-part instant compositions were recorded live during concerts in Montréal and Ottawa. Closely connected minimalist improvisations which have seen Butcher playing with numerous fellow sound explorers in Europe, North America and Asia, many of the tracks depend on the two reed players floating barely-there vibrations, while Normand’s bass and object shuffling provide the balancing fulcrum on which tones balance while peeping or trilling. While the majority of reed tones divide into smaller and smaller units as they’re pushed forward, multiphonic explosions are prominent at points as well. Case in point is En conséquence III, where strained reed puffs and nearly inaudible bass thumps soon evolve into regular rumbles as an electronic-tinged continuum, allowing full reign to upwards twisting, irregular vibrations from both saxophone and clarinet. The climatic En conséquence V intensifies these brief reflective motifs into harsher reed honks and band saw-like bass string buzzing into more pressurized yet sonically descriptive narrative. Performed with the same intensity that introduces snarling chalameau lowing, bird-like trills and an episode where it appears that the rolling friction from a gran cassa has replaced expected electric bass reverberations, Par irruption continues this close communion. While cleverly timed tongue slaps and coloratura drones emanate from both reedists, this resulting contrapuntal challenge is somewhat lessened by passages of almost sweet interface between the two. That the amiable sequence which is part of Par irruption IV is actually a prelude to subsequent tongue stops and line deconstruction only underlines the trio’s versatility. Finally that set is completed by thinner, quieter and more fractured reed vibrations plus bass rumbles proving that the group has achieved its goals within its self-defined parameters. This is another high-quality CD confirming Butcher’s adaptability and showing how Canadian players can hold their own in any international situation.

Undoubtedly one of the most successful encounters Québécois have had with a British citizen since 1759


Joël Pagier, Revue & Corrigée, no 120, 1 juin 2019
Et c’est de ce jeu de miroirs inversés que naît toute l’activité du trio, qui n’essaie pas de nous mentir en simulant une osmose originelle, mais préfère inventer un langage propre adapté à la situation.


Dolf Mulder, Vital, no 1185, 27 mai 2019

Not The Music is a duo of bassist Eric Norman and bass clarinettist Philippe Lauzier, both Montréal-based musicians. English saxophonist John Butcher joined them for concerts in Ottawa and Montréal. First five improvisations — En conséquence — were recorded live on April 27th 2018 in Ottawa. The second set of five improvisations — par interruption — were recorded live on April 26th in Montréal. Lauzier is a composer, improviser, instrumentalist (clarinet & saxophone) and sound artist. Normand is likewise working on many fronts as a composer, improviser, bassist, instrument designer, composer, songwriter, singer and record and concert producer. Earlier the duo released an album for Tour de Bras. Here in the company of John Butcher, they give way to very concentrated set with a lot happening. All three of them are experienced improvisers, each one with its distinctive style and technique. They interact and communicate with full force and concentration, although sounding sometimes a bit hesitant and modest. Strongly focused they demonstrate a concentrated interaction with sometimes diverging sometimes-converging manœuvres of emotional impact. Often repetition of motives and gestures is an important strategy of building up tension and drama. Excellent work.

Excellent work.


Stuart Broomer, Musicworks, 1 avril 2019

In the week following, Normand and bass clarinetist Philippe Lauzier, partners in the duo Not the Music, toured with Butcher as a trio. How Does This Happen? documents concerts in Ottawa and Montréal, each the kind of music that succeeds in inverse proportion to its potential to be described. In each piece, we hear series of notes, sometimes multiphonic, sometimes singular, sometimes in repeated two- or three-tone micro-phrases; sometimes the sounds can be comfortably ascribed to individual instruments, sometimes less so, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Normand plays electric bass and objects, but he has succeeded so happily in transcending the electric bass’s typical sound that it’s more likely identifiable as “non-reed.” Even on a recording, one realizes that the sounds interacting in the room, the re-enactment and resonance of sounds within sounds, have become as important as any musician’s individual notes, and that the composition is as much the room’s; as much, ultimately, the auditor’s, as the initiating trio’s. How Does This Happen? It’s either a very long story or something felt immediately.

… the kind of music that succeeds in inverse proportion to its potential to be described.


Avant Scena, 29 décembre 2018

How Does This Happen? is a new release of Ambiances Magnétiques label. Album was recorded by another one great trio — John Butcher (tenor and soprano saxophones), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet) and Éric Normand (electric bass). The collaboration of two great French jazz improvisers and famous, talented and innovative saxophonist John Butcher is the key of bright, passionate and interesting sound. Musicians are individual and independent — their music is based on different traditions, ways of playing and formation of musical language. Each of them has a different point of view, unique improvising style, expressive and driving sound and innovative way of improvising. The traditions and innovations of European, French and American avant-garde jazz are connected in this album. Collective improvisations have vibrant, bright, tremendous and intense sound. It’s filled with surprises, pleasant and gorgeous themes, weird sounds, experimental musical decisions and spontaneous ideas or bursts of energy.

How Does This Happen? is adventurous and passionate. The compositions are based on avant-garde jazz and free improvisation. Musicians are experimenting in all fields of musical language. They pay especially huge attention to instrumentation’s and expressions section. The music is bright, evocative and filled with ambitious ideas, fresh ways of improvising and innovative playing techniques. Three outstanding avant-garde hazz nasters create individual and colorful compounds, who are strongly contrasting with each other. Rich musical language is based on polyphonic and multi-colorful musical pattern, abstract and multi-layed facture, colorful and solid melodic line, dynamic and intense rhythmic, bordering dynamics, unusual timbres, special effects and stylistic variety. These cases effect original, bright and evocative sound. Open form and free improvisation is the main element of all compositions. Musicians dive into emotional, sensible, suprising and touching free improvisations, intense and vibrant bursts of energy, expressive solos, passionate sparkls or subtle, silent and relaxing episodes. Saxophones by John Butcher are moving and expressive. The melodies are based on spontaneous musical decisions, improvising in the spot, bright and moving explosions of energy. The improvisations are moving and innovative, filled with passionate and expressive melodies, remarkable solos, dizzy and charming passages, enchanting timbres, special effects, shrieky, sharp, outrageous or weird sounds, modern harmony and furious repetitions of certain rhythmes or sounds. John Butcher is the master of suggestive and innovative improvising, He switches together uncompairable ways of playing, breaking and repetitive sessions, sharp sounds, crazy ideas and shocking decisions. His improvisations are based on creative and modern point of view, fresh ideas, curiousity and wild imagination. Furious and wild bass clarinet by Philippe Lauzier make an interesting combo with active and expressive saxophones. The music also is filled with intense and vibrant melodies, roaring blow outs, vivid and dizzy solos, moving and rising culminations, breaking sessions and blowing riffs. Philippe Lauzier is a creative and masterful improviser, who manages to fuse together all different compounds in one place. Gentle, vivid, expressive, furious, wild, whistling, blowing, turbulent, passionate, roaring, luminous or simply beautiful compounds are joined together in gentle and suggestive way. Special effects, weird timbres, innovative ways of playing, marvelous playing technique also make an effort to whole sound — it makes it much more active, moving and attractive. Electric bass keeps the solid bass line and rhythmic section. It’s leaded by Éric Normand, another one great improviser. Musician tries out extended and new ways of playing, fuse them with the traditions of 1960’s avant-garde jazz, as well as progressive, contemporary, modern and other jazz styles. Intense rhythmic, breaking and repetitive sessions, aggressive series, moving and passionate melodies who gently fit with furious bursts of energy, wild and expressive passages, sparkling solos, turbulent culminations or deep, tight and stable tunes of bass line. Musician joins together numerous of different sounds, timbres and rhythms. All three musicians are great and innovative jazz masters. They don’t hesitate to use shocking, crazy or scandalous ways of playing, innovative ideas of improvising, eclectic or weird combos and other innovations of avant-garde jazz. Music is fresh, evocative and bright.

… adventurous and passionate. […] Music is fresh, evocative and bright.