John Butcher's work ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked saxophone pieces and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics.
Originally a physicist, he left academia in 1982, and has since collaborated with hundreds of musicians - including Derek Bailey, John Stevens, Gerry Hemingway, The EX, Polwechsel, Gino Robair, Rhodri Davies, John Edwards, Toshimaru Nakamura, Paul Lovens, Eddie Prevost, John Russell, Mark Sanders, John Tilbury, Christian Marclay, Phil Minton, and Steve Beresford.
He is well known as a solo performer who attempts to engage with a sense of place. Thirteen Friendly Numbers, his first solo release (1992), also includes compositions for multitracked saxophones, whilst later releases focus both on live performance and amplification and saxophone-controlled feedback.
Resonant Spaces is a collection of site-specific performances collected during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.
He has toured and broadcast in Europe, Japan, North America and Australia, and was featured, playing solo, in the BBC TV programme Date with an Artist.
In 2011 he received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists.
His compositions include pieces for the Austrian group Polwechsel, the Australian Elision Ensemble, the American Rova Saxophone Quartet and Penny Wands and Native String for eight reconstructed Futurist Intonarumori.
In 2008 a Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival commission led to the formation of the seven piece John Butcher Group to perform his composition "somethingtobesaid".
Recent collaborative projects include the quintet Anemone with trumpeter Peter Evans, the wind trio The Contest of Pleasures with Axel Dörner and Xavier Charles, Way Out Northwest with Torsten Muller and Dylan van der Schyff, and a very new trio with Gino Robair and John Edwards.
Butcher values playing in occasional encounters - ranging from large groups such as Butch Morris' London Skyscraper and the EX Orkestra, to duo concerts with Otomo Yoshihide, David Toop, Kevin Drumm, Thomas Lehn, Fred Frith, Okkyung Lee, Duck Baker, Matthew Shipp and Akio Suzuki.