The Matt Butler Quartet
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The Matt Butler Quartet

Jacksonville, Texas, United States

Jacksonville, Texas, United States
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Among the musicians successfully mining the field where groove meets jazz improv is Jacksonville's Matt Butler. Butler, a talented young guitarist who frequently works in quartet with sax, bass, and drums, is committed to open form structures and attentive group meditations on spontaneous themes. This kind of laboratory setting can, with experience and dedication, produce mesmerizing art, and butler and company are well enough connected to the pleasures of funk that they have something to offer even audiences who might ordinarily run in terror at the idea of "free jazz."-Jazziz - Jazziz Magazine


Butler's guitar wizardry was prevalent throughout the quartets first set. Rarely did he move more than twisting back and forth in place, and his eyes were either shut or transfixed on one spot. At first he seemed as though he was almost battling the guitar, rocking it as if he were in some sort of awkward dance with an unfamiliar partner. But his emotions come out through his instrument, not his body language.--Mark Faulkner, Times Union - Times Union


"His playing is let go in a flurry of notes that cascade in torrents and resolve, as if tied in a knot, the next."-Arvid Smith, Folio Weekly - Folio Weekly


"His band is a soloist's dream. Brief exposition of the tunes followed by an exploration of the journalists "five w's"… only musically. The Butler group is about challenge."-Arvid Smith, Folio Weekly - Folio Weekly


The free-improvising Matt Butler Quintet led by the Jacksonville-based composer guitarist was also an unexpected hit with the crowd, following Ray and preceding the Nevilles. Featuring occasional Ornette Coleman collaborator Bill Warfield (who shared horn solo space with alto saxophonist Joe Yorio), Butler's group was all systole and diastole, with the collective improvisations peaking and ebbing throughout each composition.-Tony Green, Times Union 1997 - Times Union


"The Matt Butler Group is a tight band that has a full understanding of tone and suspenseful dynamics. Butler and his mates said as much when the notes came one at a time as they did when they rained upon the crowd."-Times Union 1995 - Times Union


Butler is respected for his compositional prowess, but his concepts on group mind and improvisation are what make him a local legend. He relies on players to come to the stage with an open mind , prepared to listen and react. Whereas most seasoned cats have an arsenal of licks they can whip out in a time of crisis, Butler requires his group to respond to each other as well as the themes laid out in the written score. What's more, Butler would rather his players fail than reach for a cliché. Honesty over pyrotechnics anyday. -Folioweekly - Folioweekly


"In a town that bursts with great players, Matt Butler is somewhat of an iconoclast."-The Times Union Oct. 9th, 1995 - Times Union


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

The Matt Butler Quartet: The Awe Firm Of McCloskey, Steffen, Butler, and Day

If you're going to perform with the Matt Butler Quartet, you'd better know the rules. First, learn the material inside-out. Second, don't play licks -- ever. Third, develop musical ideas thematically with respect to the composition being performed, keeping in mind the ever-sensitive interplay between the musicians while imposing abstract melodic and rhythmic concepts based on the theme, weaving them subtly throughout the piece without intruding on the other performers and still maintaining a sense of individuality.

Oh, most importantly: Forget all that … just play.

Jacksonville guitarist and composer Matt Butler is one of those rare but exciting birds capable of creating intense and complex instrumentals that challenge the most well-educated and practiced of players, Butler also has an innate sense of melody and harmonic structure, and an undying respect for form. To call him a jazz composer is accurate, but incomplete. Like most of modern music's most progressive minds -- Thelonious Monk, John Zorn, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra -- Butler uses his rigid sense of composition as a springboard to far-reaching, sometimes anarchical improvisations.

Jazz is at once a limiting and limitless art form. But working within the confines of quartet-style jazz, the Matt Butler opens up a world, indeed a universe, of musical possibilities to those who dare listen. To further belabor the bird analogy, watching the Matt Butler Quartet is to witness an unpredictable display of acrobatic brilliance, of both power and gentleness. Wings spread wide, the band twists and summersaults, soars and dives between sheer canyon walls and over horizonless vistas. And the landing is, almost without fail, ever so graceful.

- John Citrone Folio Weekly