Johnny Butler’s Raise It Up EP takes the saxophone into another dimension with a provocative style that is as thoughtful as it is danceable. With a formidable 7-track lineup of original songs, Raise it Up includes a smorgasbord of free/uncleared samples and instrumental contributions by Kassa Overall (Geri Allen, Vijay Iyer, KOOL AD) on drums, Aidan Carroll (Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Melody Gardot) on bass, and JJ Byars (Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Hungry Hands) on alto saxophone.
Over the past several years, Butler’s live shows have been a showcase of brilliant improvisation and beautiful electronic music. Groove-driven but given to richly textured sound design, rhythmically fractured but melodically sumptuous, Johnny Butler’s music is a bridge between the past and the present, bringing the artist face-to-face with a creative legacy that spans decades. On Raise it Up, Butler seamlessly alternates between saxophone, looping, and samples, building a nearly infinite palate of planetary and interplanetary sonics merged into a Frankenstein’s monster-ish list of styles and influences
Looking back, his full-length debut Carousel (voted “Best of 2013” by Jazz Journalists Association) appears to be much more of a mission statement than a simple introduction- laying the foundation for a field on which a brand new sound would soon be born. While Carousel was an introspective, moody travelogue through the Brooklyn metropolis, it certainly hinted at Johnny Butler’s inclination to expand beyond terrestrial means.
After dabbling with resonances from John Coltrane and Miles Davis and enveloping his processed saxophone sound in cavernous reverb, Brooklyn-based Johnny Butler turns a polyphony of overdubbed horns (triggered by laptop) into Fritz Lang’s Metropolis machine.
— DownBeat Magazine
Raise it Up is Butler’s third solo release after Solo (2010) and Carousel (2013), and fourth album as a bandleader, releasing Fracture (2010) on London’s Hi4Head Records. In addition to his own work, Butler is a founding member of Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, with whom he toured nationally from 2009 to 2013, recording two albums for Modern Vintage Recordings, Pound of Dirt (2012) and Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds (2010). He helped write and record the tenor and baritone saxophone parts on Beyonce‘s album 4, and has performed with tUnE-yArDs, Stevie Wonder, Donald Fagen, Warren Hayes, The Levon Helm Band, Joe Lally (of Fugazi), Strangefolk, La La Brooks of Phil Spector’s Crystals, and The Skeletons Big Band.