Among the musicians successfully
mining the field where groove meets
jazz improv is Jacksonville's Matt
Butler. Butler, a talented
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."

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

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

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

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
-Tony Green, 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

In a town that
bursts with
great players,
Matt Butler is
somewhat of
an iconoclast.
-The 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.