While the music made by Bill Bruford's earlier Earthworks band was consistently more interesting, his current lineup continues to make great strides given its more traditional stance (post-bop acoustic piano/saxophone quartet verses ultra-modern Euro-jazz fusion). On the live Footloose and Fancy Free, the group exceeds its own studio performances with room to spare. The lovely ballad "Come to Dust" is a fine showcase for pianist Steve Hamilton, and Bruford's punchy drumming moves a complex "Triplicity." Even non-Earthworks tunes from Bruford's late-'90s collaborations with Tony Levin ("Original Sin") and Ralph Towner ("If Summer Had Its Ghosts") get inspiring interpretations as well, thanks to the well-seasoned playing of both tenor/alto saxophonist Patrick Calahar and Hamilton.
File under "Yes." When this version of the band couldn't obtain rights to the name, they put their album out under their combined names, but it's still Yes by any other name. Jon Anderson's tenor wails through spacy lyrics, Rick Wakeman constructs cathedrals of synthesized sound, Steve Howe rips high-pitched guitar leads, and Bill Bruford makes his drums sound like timpani…
This recording chronicles the live performances of Bruford Levin Upper Extremities from 1998. The disc showcases the band's unique blend of jazzy modes with Crimson-esque textures and, occasionally, just plain weirdness. Many of the tracks become looser jams in the live performance. For those who saw this tour, the disc will be a great memento. For those who didn't, it will serve as a shining example of what they missed, and encouragement to be more careful not to pass up subsequent tours. The band is Tony Levin, Bill Bruford, Chris Botti, and David Torn.
On If Summer Had Its Ghosts, a primarily acoustic trio recording, drummer Bill Bruford, bassist Eddie Gómez, and pianist/guitarist Ralph Towner create some lush, wondrous, spontaneous and melodic music. It has jazz roots, improvisational branches, and elfin extensions. There's no gimmickry or pretension, although Bruford does add some sampled colors, and Towner overdubs his instruments as well as throwing in a pinch of electronic keyboards. What you basically hear is Bruford's newest and freshest music, interpreted and extrapolated upon by three virtuosos in mellifluous interactive conversation. At their most swinging, as on the lively, four/four, tick-tock, light rimshot, mid-tempo swing of the title track, they are telepathic, with Towner effortlessly switching from acoustic 12-string to piano and Gómez laying down soulful, full, deep bass punctuations.
Drummer Bill Bruford made a name for himself in the '70s as a rock & roller of a progressive bent. In the '80s he formed the rather extraordinary jazz/fusion band that became Earthworks – Bruford, saxophonist Iain Ballamy, keyboard and brass virtuoso Django Bates, and bassist Mick Hutton. This was their first album; an interesting one it was, though a later, live recording of the band presented some of the same material in a more highly developed state, rendering this original somewhat irrelevant.
The music of Bill Bruford's Earthworks on All Heaven Broke Loose is quite unusual. The multi-themed originals feature top-notch playing by the quartet (Bruford on drums and electronic percussion, Django Bates on keyboards, peck horn and trumpet, Iain Ballamy on reeds, and bassist Tim Harries) that looks toward Ornette Coleman; at times (Ballamy's tenor sometimes recalls Dewey Redman) while traveling its own singular path. Full of unpredictability, subtle mood changes, touches of eccentric funk and a surprisingly creative use of electronic rhythms here and there, Bruford's band plays intense but sometimes melancholy and introspective music. This version of the release includes an additional CD of bonus material.
This is intelligent fusion – intricately crafted, high energy, and technically impressive. Bill Bruford has distinguished himself from the majority of rock musicians with a consistent drive to experiment and challenge himself artistically. He composes innovative tunes with subtle rhythmic twists, often in odd meters, and his drumming is always musical and very precise. This is the third studio release of the fusion group that he assembled in 1977. Gradually Going Tornado attempted to further streamline the group's approach and introduced the vocal work of the brilliant electric bassist Jeff Berlin (heavily influenced by Jack Bruce and Jaco Pastorius).
Rock Goes to College by drummer Bill Bruford's late-1970s band Bruford, was greeted with considerable excitement. Featuring Hatfield and the North/National Health keyboardist Dave Stewart and über-bassist Jeff Berlin, the group only played a couple of live dates with original guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who left shortly afterwards and was replaced by "The Unknown John Clarke. One of those performances was recorded by the BBC for television broadcast and, while it's a scant 42-minutes long, it represents a high water mark for the British progressive/fusion scene of that time—or, for that matter, any other.