We carry just about everything in our store, including many unique items such as autographed CDs and DVDs and merchandise, unavailable anywhere else. Our store is physically located in California, so European customers might find it a bit more convenient to order direct from the online shop at our distributor here.
If memory serves, several reasons.
a) I wasn’t about to go through "Close to the Edge" again. It had taken three months of all-nighters, and if I knew one thing at the end, it was that I wouldn’t be able to improve on that effort with that group of people, so no point in hanging around.
b) I’d only played with those four musicians for the majority of my short musical career, four and a half years at that point, and I was becoming desperate to hear myself in some other context. I never subscribed to the notion that after a few hit records rock musicians were supposed to atrophy, become a laughing stock, and then just stop.
c) King Crimson beckoned.
d) I couldn’t wait for Chris Squire any more. The grossest form of insult any musician can bestow upon a colleague is to keep him waiting.
When I started playing, the drums were unmiked, and the amplifiers very big. To be better heard, I used a combination of open tuning with a rimshot struck on the "ringy" part of the drum, midway between the centre and the rim. This got the high frequencies out and cutting through, and the ring, excessive if heard on its own, was absorbed when everyone else played. Necessity is often the mother of invention. This approach became monumentally unacceptable to rock record producers as the records came to be made within a rapidly shrinking dynamic range, the better to suit the demands of American F.M. radio.
Anyone who crossed my record player, which was a lot of people. Sometimes terrible musicians were a strong negative influence, and often non-drummers were a strong positive influence. So Miles Davis for economy and style, David Bowie because he was always moving and would never quite let his audience catch up (very smart), and the Rolling Stones who just seemed awful. Amongst drummers, I was transfixed by jazz, mostly from the U.S., on British T.V. in the sixties, so I grew up with all the great players. Specifically Max Roach for his economy, grace, and melody; Joe Morello for odd metres; and Art Blakey for the sound and the groove.
See above. After a brief aberration in the late 60’s and 70’s, rock music has reverted to type, namely in that it is the preserve of the song writer, record producer, and record company, and is an area generally hostile to the ideas of a free thinking instrumentalist. That is probably as it should be, but it means the purveyors of the marginal fringe ideas that fuelled rock in the aberrant post-Beatles era, the people who brought Indian music, classical music, psychedelia, jazz, minimalism, and the like, in short all the things that made rock interesting, have been booted out, back to where they came from, branded as the meddlers they indeed were. I went back to jazz. There, the relationship is between performer and audience, as indeed it is in small intelligent rock, rather than performer and record company, as it is in the mass market. Waiting for someone at the "label" , who neither knows anything about nor cares for music, to give you permission to play, is of course, insufferable./
Rapidly advancing technology in the early 80’s offered the drummer a kaleidoscopic range of sonic possibilities, at once seductive and intriguing. The ability to play melodies, chords, and repetitive pitched loops opened new horizons. Surely it would be easier to play "new music" if you have "new sounds" at your fingertips? Well, yes and no. It depends how much your new timbres become the essence and form of the piece without which the piece could not exist, rather than just the icing on the cake. But at the start the sky appeared to be the limit. I introduced them into King Crimson with considerable enthusiasm.
a) The excruciating amount of time needed to extract something interesting from a reluctant and unreliable group of disparate instruments played a part. The things only became interesting beyond their design capabilities, and when you intermarried them with other instruments and got them to talk to each other through MIDI. In the fourteen or fifteen years I was actively on board, I suppose I gave rise to no more than fourteen to fifteen compositions which were absolutely a function of electronic percussion, and whose charm arose uniquely from that instrument. At about one a year, that’s not a great output, given the time it took.
b) The complexity of the instruments caused the bottom to fall out of the market and the manufacturers were forced to cater for the home-entertainment market , where everything remains on preset one, and comes ready cooked.
c) Shipping costs, maintenance, and unreliability, all took their toll.
The London jazz scene isn’t that big, and people who play as well as the current Earthworkers tend to get talked about. The "606" in Chelsea is a good place to start.
Ah, every drummers favourite question, this. Usually because it can be answered in words of one syllable which aren’t exactly going to encourage response. The answer is Pro-Mark SD4 Bill Bruford model. Please visit the several manufacturer’s websites on the links page if you are equipment minded.
Given that I’m not much in love with anything I’ve done, I’ll grudgingly admit that a couple of albums a decade, irrespective of my particular contribution, seem to have "legs", and some sort of coherency in their vision which enables them to stand apart from their contemporaries. "Close to the Edge" from Yes,and King Crimson’s "Red" in the 70s, and "Discipline" and "Absent Lovers" in the 80s, are perhaps somesuch. Also "One of a Kind" by Bruford, and Earthworks first and current CD, "A Part, and yet Apart" were milestones upon a particular path for me. Listening back to old efforts is a bit like looking back through the family photo album; you’re mostly just embarrassed not only by the terrible jeans you wore, but by the fact that you didn’t appear to know they were terrible!
Never, I’m afraid. I retired from public performance – after 2885 assorted gigs and concerts - on January 1st 2009.
My drums are arranged symmetrically around a central snare with the remote hi-hat positioned immediately in front of it. There are then 2 toms and 2 cymbals on the left , mirrored by the same (different pitches) on the right. All the drums are flat on the same plain, like a tympanist with 5 tympani.
Personally I find the movement a few inches to the left to find the high tom easier than moving forward and up, as on the standard set. The movement is more a swivel at the hips to get round the semi-circle of drums. Getting rid of the old right-hand-over-the-left-to-reach-the-hi-hat routine also opens up the left side of the kit considerably. Sometimes I practice without the strong right side of the kit set up at all, in order to give the weaker left side as airing.
A disadvantage is that you have to have a remote hi-hat, not always available at jazz festivals or rehearsal rooms, etc., but I can recommend the Tama Iron Cobra, a great bit of kit.
The drums are not set up in descending pitch order, either, so the well known sound of a descending roll round the drums needs a complicated bit of sticking that I tend to avoid. Generally I've always been interested in unusual drums arranged in unusual ways, feeling that it might give me a different sound, or way of doing things.
Robert Wyatt of Soft Machine, so the story goes, used to have them set up differently every night! Further info on Equipment page here
We carry just about everything in our store, including many unique items such as autographed CDs and DVDs and merchandise, unavailable anywhere else. Our store is physically located in California, so European customers might find it a bit more convenient to order direct from the online shop at our distributor here.
It has proved all but impossible to find the right promoter to put on some French gigs. There is a rich irony in that France has traditionally been generous to those of the jazz persuasion, and comes with an excellent circuit of Maisons des Cultures, but somehow Anglos seem "interdit". If anyone can rectify this situation, please get in touch.
It was a 14" X 5" Ludwig Supraphonic 400 aluminium/chrome plated snare drum, a second hand instrument bought along with my "real" Ludwig drum kit from a pawn shop with Yes's first manager, Roy Flynn. Please see the earlier FAQ "Why does your snare drum sound like that?".
"Heavenly Bodies" is a 13 track "best of " CD from Earthworks, with previously unreleased live material, which marks the conclusion of the first edition of the band, and takes a broad overview of events between 1986 and 1993. For the newcomer it is the ideal entry point to the ferocious agility with which the band negotiates the rapids, and for the long-standing Earthworker, an excellent "greatest hits" package.
Record Label: Virgin Venture
Catalogue number: CDVE 934, unreleased in the U.S.A
Out of print--probably ebay only.
Approximately 44 parts to some 22 Bruford compositions are available online at sheetmusicdirect.com. The intention is to expand this over time, and also go back to my earlier compositions for my group "Bruford", which are much in demand, particularly at College level.
The cymbal was featured on "One More Red Nightmare" from King Crimson's "Red" album, and has quietly become a legend. I found it in the rehearsal room trash can, deposited there by the group in the room before us. It was turned up on one side in an effort to get it to fit in the bin, like an Australian bush hat; it had definitely seen better days. It was a "foreign made" Zilco Standard cymbal imported into the UK by Arbiter Co. Ltd., and, before you ask, I have no idea what happened to Zilco. Anyway, it's maltreatment had bequeathed it this fabulous trashy sound with a very short, fast decay. It looked so sad; I took pity on it and we fell in love. I used it for about a year or so before it split, and the end came swiftly after that.
I sent the CD to Paiste Cymbals in Switzerland, with a view to them creating something similar, but heard no more.
Earthworks is now permanently parked and inactive, following my retirement. The final band was Tim Garland (saxophones, bass clarinet, flute), Gwilym Simcock (piano), Laurie Cottle (bass) and myself on drums. Please click here for the musician’s profiles.
First, because I can think of nothing to add, and second, because I have other things to do. Pat Mastelotto has the gig well covered. As a member of the band for some 25 years off and on, I found the experience challenging, innovative, and exasperating in equal measure, and I wouldn't have changed a moment of it. I learned lots about music, and my place in it, over the years, and was lucky enough to participate in some concerts that neither audience nor musicians will be likely to forget in a hurry. Somewhere around the turn of the millennium it became obvious to me that I had achieved all I was likely to achieve in the mighty Crim.
I have also been keen to get back to the vernacular of jazz, not as a tourist, but as a full time committed member, and the second edition of Earthworks opened up full throttle in 1998. To make progress in the one demanded renouncing the other.
That said, you never know with Crimson. Expect the unexpected.
The multi-talented reedsman Tim Garland, a fine composer in his own right, has been the featured artist in Earthworks, one of the longest running and internationally successful UK jazz exports, since early 2002, and the quartet has performed all over the world to remarkable acclaim. Simultaneously, the energetic Garland has also been organising the Dean Street Underground Orchestra, a little big-band of the cream of London players, for regular monthly performances at the Dean Street Pizza Express Jazz Club where Earthworks "Footloose and Fancy Free" was recorded. It was only a matter of time for one to become subsumed into the other in a mutually beneficial exchange; the intricate and idiosyncratic nature of Bill’s compositions for Earthworks would breathe and expand on the larger canvas, and Garland would have an existing and unusual body of music to rearrange for an even greater impact than the quartet can produce. Saxophonist Iain Ballamy, a founding member of Earthworks back in 1987, has performed and contributed arrangements—the music is taken from right across the band's repertoire up to and including the current Earthworks CD “Random Acts of Happiness”.
A New York edition of the band was created especially for an exclusive 6 night run at the Iridium Jazz Club , December 7-12 2004. This was recorded for a new CD, with limited edition 2-track bonus CD, released on Summerfold Records in January 2006.
“He used to be a rock guy, all guitars and electric, and now he’s a jazz guy, all saxophones and acoustic.” Or so at least goes the rather simplistic shorthand for those who have been good enough to consider Bill’s recorded output since 1977. While, for the musician, such distinctions may appear hopelessly old-fashioned, it is, as they say, the way the world works. Back here at the ranch, it seems to us the case that a number of listeners who had hitherto derived pleasure from the music of Holdsworth, Stewart, Berlin, Moraz et al, were unintentionally left behind in the watershed year of 1987 with the arrival of Earthworks, and musicians with less familiar names and smaller amplifiers, like Bates, Ballamy, Garland, and Hamilton. Quite simply, we lost those good listeners and they lost us, for no good reason anyone can think of, and here’s the way to reconnect.
WINTERFOLD RECORDS exists, in the first instance, to re-issue re-mastered and expanded versions of Bill’s first 7 CDs up to the 1987 watershed.
Similarly, SUMMERFOLD RECORDS has been created to re-issue re-mastered and expanded versions of his work since 1987, together with current and future recordings.
Both labels are currently distributed globally by Voiceprint
|BBWF 003CD||Feels Good To Me||Joe Frazier|
|BBWF 004CD||One of a Kind||Manacles (previously unrecorded)|
|BBWF 005CD||Gradually Going Tornado||5G|
|BBWF 006CD||The Bruford Tapes||Age of Information|
|BBSF 009CD||Earthworks||All Heaven Broke Loose, A Stone's Throw|
|BBSF 010CD||Dig?||Emotional Shirt, Pigalle|
|BBSF 011CD||All Heaven Broke Loose||Libreville, Pilgrim's Way|
|BBSF 012CD||Stamping Ground||Hotel Splendour|
All tracks are live. The Summerfold ( Earthworks ) recordings are high quality 24-track selections from Bill's personal archive. The Winterfold ( Bruford ) selections are necessarily from a more primitive age and lower audio quality, and are included as efficient chronicles of the raw fire-power and technical agility of that particular group.
Four percussion masters, global leaders in their respective disciplines, come together for a highly-charged musical exchange; explosive, unpredictable, and unusual. Doudou N’Diaye Rose ( Senagalese master of the sabar ), Chad Wackerman, ( Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth ), Luis Conte ( Madonna, Michael Jackson ), and Bill Bruford ( Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks ), are known internationally as the World Drummers Ensemble. For those unfamiliar with, or unpersuaded by, the astonishing and increasing grip of the percussive arts as an innovative force in music across continents, this Dual Disc CD / DVD offers conclusive proof, were any needed, that rhythm beats at the heart of all things.
A true cultural ambassador for Senegal, Doudou N'Diaye Rose is today considered as one of the great musicians of his time. Chief drum major, founder of the Drummers of West Africa, he is the most famous griot in Sengal. Both guardian of the tradition and untiring innovator, this virtuoso of percussion is now perceived as a true conductor, the African equivalent of a great conductor of a symphony orchestras, regularly leading groups of from 20 to 100 drummers. As part of the World Drummers Ensemble he has immersed himself in less familiar ideas of odd-metered rock, jazz improvisation and small group interplay. Born 1928 into a griot family, he soon rose from the shadow of traditional drum major to become the rising darling of the Senegalese drumming community. With Independence in 1960 he joined the Senegalese National Ballet, propelling him to international stardom. For many years his ensembles of varying sizes have toured world capitals to huge acclaim. In 1996 he was the center of attention at the opening of the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, and he has invented more than 500 new rhythms in African percussion. worldmusiccentral.org
Chad Wackerman’s drumming combines the power and conviction of rock with the sensitivity and finesse of jazz. His playing is remarkably free of predictable patterns and licks, relying instead on invention and interplay with the musicians around him Phenomenally skilled, he has amassed a remarkable body of work including a seven year association with Frank Zappa, with whom he toured and recorded 26 albums including the London Symphony recordings. He has also recorded and /or toured with, among others, Allan Holdsworth, Barbra Streisand, Steve Vai, Andy Summers, Men At Work, Albert Lee, James Taylor, John Patitucci , Joe Sample, and most recently with another ex -Zappa drummer , Terry Bozzio. As a band leader and composer Chad has four critically acclaimed CDs titled 'Forty Reasons', 'The View', 'Scream', and his latest release 'Legs Eleven'. chadwackerman.com
Grammy-winner Luis Conte is an acknowledged master of Afro-Cuban percussion. His celebrated career includes working with some of the greatest names in contemporary music, including Madonna, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Santana, Jackson Browne, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Shakira, Ozzy Osborne, Queen Latifah and Cuban legends Arturo Sandoval and Cachao. He can also be heard on the scores and/or soundtracks to such box office smashes as Mission Impossible, Rain Man, Waiting To Exhale, Coming To America, and countless others. His percussion clinic tours take him around the world teaching musicians the essentials and history of Afro-Cuban rhythm, and he has recently just released his signature line of congas, timbales and shakers for the Meinl Company. luisconte.com
By the tender age of 27, Bill Bruford’s musical character had already been forged in the fiery furnace of four of the biggest progressive rock groups of all time; Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, and UK. Early success propelled Bill, by nature a restless innovator uncomfortable with the well-worn path, into a fascinating 30 year career as a band leader and writer. Groups such as Bruford and Earthworks led the way with advanced harmony in electric rock in the 70s & 80s; samples, electronics, and odd-metres in electric jazz in the 90s; and stylistic innovation with strong compositional identity in his current acoustic jazz. His taste for the unpredictable in live performance has led him to collaborations with countless of the world’s top musicians, not least the World Drummer’s Ensemble, in an endless search for the innovative, the unusual, and the unlikely. 30 years after Progressive rock, Bruford remains a vital force in all things percussive, and his life’s work is well documented on CD and DVD at Summerfold and Winterfold Records.
The music includes pieces from all members, but also from Switzerland via Pierre Favre, Turkey via the Harem Percussion Group, America via Max Roach, and there’s even a re-working of King Crimson’s “B’Boom”. This Dual Disc CD audio / DVD documents over an hour of their ambitious programme from concerts in Amsterdam and Brussels, and includes a complimentary 15 minute DVD on the reverse side.
It is a "toy" version of an African log drum, or slit drum. It has eight tines, or tongues, is made of California redwood, and costs about $25 in a Hollywood tourist shop. It has a nice liquid quality with a semi-definite pitch. I bought two or three 20 years ago, and the last one needs retiring. It was used with King Crimson on the tracks Discipline, Sheltering Sky and Two Hands, and with Earthworks on White Knuckle Wedding and even lent its name to Speaking in Wooden Tongues, both tracks from Random Acts of Happiness. Before you ask, I don't think they are made any more! My log/tongue/slit drums currently come from Michael Thiele of Hardwood Music Company whose products are available at africantreasures.com. You might also want to check tonguedrum.com.
John Clark stepped in at very short notice for Allan Holdsworth on a European tour, and stayed on with my band Bruford for the next two CDs and couple of years. The group collapsed under a mountain of tour expenses around 1980, mostly caused by shipping a Hammond organ round the U.S. John was, and no doubt still is, a terrific player and a gentleman. He picked up work with pop-singer Cliff Richard's band ( something of a cultural icon in the UK..) and as far as I know has been there ever since.
This concert DVD was filmed at Oxford Polytechnic, England, on March 7th 1979, by Bill's group "Bruford". The band made only two appearances in its short life, both on national TV shows, and this is the second of the two. It was a ground-breaking electric rock group, four of whose members - Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Berlin, Annette Peacock and Bill - already possessed, or went on to develop, individual voices within jazz. Keyboardist Dave Stewart subsequently achieved substantial success in the pop singles world with Barbara Gaskin.
This 8 track 43 minute show was released September 25th 2006 for the first time on all-regions DVD, authored from the original BBC footage, and complete with 12 page booklet. A Special Edition, limited to 500 copies and purchaseable by mail-order only, was made available from a dedicated website approximately one month in advance of the general release of the standard store version. Each Special Edition copy was numbered, autographed , and comes in Special Edition artwork. You can buy the DVD in the online store.
“Bruford…organically fuses jazz’s harmonic and melodic breadth with the rhythmic impetuosity and electric bite of rock. Bruford’s concepts take a backseat to no-one: not Weather Report, Gary Burton, Terje Rypdal or John McLaughlin.” Downbeat [5 stars] USA 1979
“…brimming with some of the most creative talent in…contemporary improvisational music.” Sounds. UK. 1979
“For ten years, through sojourns with King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and other bands, Bruford has steadily increased his reputation as one of the world’s most intelligent and accomplished percussionists.” Sunday Times. UK. 1979
Michiel is the best known jazz pianist in the Netherlands. He came to prominence when he won the Thelonious Monk Composers Award and his prodigious talent was recognised by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. See michielborstlap.com for further info. We have an occasional improvising duo which is a direct successor to the group I had in the 80s with Patrick Moraz, that produced " Music For Piano and Drums".
The nature of the Bruford-Borstlap music is conversational. In a small room, where most of the tracks on the CD were recorded, this may have the intimacy of a dinner table conversation between old friends ( ‘Round Midnight, Every Step ). But in a big hall, where things may quite naturally become a bit more muscular and assertive ( 16 Kingdoms, Swansong ), we are quite capable of sounding like a band with three times as many people in it. Neither quite rock, nor quite jazz, its fair to say we both believe in a music with immediacy, with authorship, and without boundaries or safety nets. Ideally, these instant compositions will resonate with happy coincidence, appropriate technique, human accident, unforced error, missed chances, astonishing good luck, hidden intentions, oblique references and the full catalogue of happenstance that is mirrored in all human existence, and is just the kind of place in which we feel we can live and breathe and have our being. Try the CD "Every Step a Dance, Every Word a Song", or the DVD "Live in Holland".
The word “Earthworks” has a multi-level meaning. On one hand it could refer to a man’s work here on Earth, or perhaps the fortifications and ramparts of early bronze and iron-age man, also known here in these ancient British Isles as earthworks. In order to build a building, you have first to excavate, to find solid footings upon which to construct, maybe to construct a jazz group that will last two decades. There are also implications of musical works from across the globe and styles from across oceans. All of this is sewn into the fabric of the band. Musicians entering will hopefully use the band as a vehicle for personal change and growth, and be different players with different outlooks when they leave. It has the connotation of "solid foundations".
The New Percussion Group of Amsterdam (Neuwe Slagwerkgroep of Amsterdam - N.S.A) is a percussion ensemble with a very individual and separate identity, lying within the beating heart of some of one of the world's greatest orchestras, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. Founded in 1980 by the two solo percussionists, Jan Pustjens and Niels Le Large, the N.S.A. has a specific remit to bring new and adventurous percussion works to a young and modern audience. The group has received much critical acclaim for its appearances in many concert series apart from its own productions, and has encouraged, inspired, and expanded the repertoire for percussion ensembles. Neils had come across my work in the early 1970s, but it wasn't until 1985 that he got an opportunity to invite me to perform as a guest soloist with the group, on a work written specifically for me - Go Between. Also invited was the eminent Japanese composer and virtuoso, Keiko Abe. She studied percussion, composition and piano at Gakugei University in Tokyo, ultimately specialising on marimba, the instrument she was to change forever. Her formidable technical skill and powerful musical interpretation has made her a primary figure in the development of the modern five octave concert instrument, in terms of expanding both technique and repertoire. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993, and the first player to develop six-mallet technique. Among her former students is the noted percussionist Evelyn Glennie. The result of this collaboration, comprising four long tracks of material written specifically for the project and its two featured artists, appeared originally in !986 on a CD called Go Between. It was reissued on Summerfold Records on October 1 2007, and is available from the shop on this site.
Max had elegance, economy of movement, and a sense of architecture in his playing that intrigued me as a kid. I wanted that effortless kind of grace at the set. He never spoilt his suit with sweat! I covered solos of his ( ‘The Drum Also Waltzes’ on my album Masterstrokes, and ‘Self-Portrait’ with the World Drummers Ensemble ) as a tribute to him, and to reference my style to his. I met him several times at King Crimson shows. Always interested in new things, he was there checking out my electronic percussion. His recent death (2007) leaves the drum community a poorer place.
Joe fascinated me in the Brubeck Quartet of the mid-60s with tunes like ‘Far More Drums’, ‘It’s a Raggy Waltz’, and ‘Take Five’. He had spectacular technical ability, very smooth, but also a great ability with odd time signatures. Mostly we only played in duple or triple meters in those days, and Joe opened a whole world of odd numbers and Turkish rhythms that I took to like a duck to water. I could never think of anything of interest to play in 4/4, but had something to offer if we could make it in 5/4. As with Max, I covered one of his famous 5/4 solos on my album ‘If Summer Had Its Ghosts’
Watching B.B.C. television as a kid in the late 60s, I heard all the great American jazz musicians coming through London. They were filmed and recorded for a prime-time TV show called Jazz 625. I heard everybody, but particularly Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Art had this thundering deep tom sound, and a snare drum roll from Heaven. I loved the way he controlled the band, like a guy driving a fast race-car, or a thoroughbred horse. Nobody went anywhere without Art’s say-so, but when it was time to play, he fired them up, stoked the fires, and then reigned them in. Complete control. From Art I took that idea, and also the colour and timbre of his sound.
I think in every generation there is one guy who really has the ball and is running with it, and for my generation, it’s Jack. Skip to any place on the record, and its like he’s playing a measure of 4/4 swing that he’s never played before. Of course he has, but it seems like he is a constant stream of invention and nuance, one idea rolling along straight after the previous one. Jack’s soul-funk band ‘Compost’ supported Yes in New York once – we shared the same manager for about a week. That was a long way from his current sublime playing with Keith Jarrett . I cannot and wouldn’t want to play anything like him, but he is nevertheless a big influence.
I met Bill recently (2006) at the Montreal Drumfest, and he struck me as extremely disciplined and intense. A beautiful player with a gorgeous sound, and a risk taker, like Tony Williams. Bill’s first album demonstrated not only that he could play like a dream, but also that he could write intricate and beautiful music, too. I have a special soft spot for the drummer-writers - Pete Erskine, Paul Motian, Bill – because that is also my area of interest. Bill has a special way of building up poly-rhythms between the limbs of great complexity, and exerting tension as they build, before bringing release at exactly the right moment. Its all tension and release, and dynamic control. Bill is a master of these.
Mark is one of the new breed of fantastic young musicians. You can hear him wailing with Avishai Cohen’s group and his own band Heernt. When I grew up, there was jazz and there was rock. You could like Hendrix or Coltrane, but not both. The jazz guys were terrible at rock, and the rock guys were worse at jazz. Mark is typical of the new generation that not only knows Hendrix and Coltrane and has absorbed the music of both, but now sees no real separation. For the new guys, music is one complete whole, and they have a technical ability to accommodate all styles and start building a personal, fresh, composite style from all elements of current (and maybe ancient) percussion.
There is no drummer on the planet who does not include this sensational player in a list of favourites. He changed everything. From him I learned the art of the ‘flam’. My favourite recording with Miles Davis is probably ‘Seven Steps to Heaven’. Tony was on top of his game at that time. The solo is one of the finest drums solos ever recorded – not a note wasted, not a note out of place. But there are so many records. I also love ‘Believe It’ with Allan Holdsworth.
A Senegalese master of the sabar, Doudou is a whippet-thin, seventy-six year old from Dhakar. The personification of rhythm. He plays only his 100 year old drum, seated, with the instrument on the floor in front of him, one curved stick in the right hand. Check him out briefly on the CD / DVD ‘World Drummers Ensemble’ ( Summerfold BBSF015DD ) . His music is him – he is the music. He is very connected to his culture. It is difficult for an Englishman to be connected to his rhythmic culture ( the British are one of the most determinedly a-rhythmic cultures on earth!) , so I am connected to the broader culture of rhythm and the global percussive arts, through working with people like Doudou.
Fellow countryman Gavin is leading the field in improvising with meters. He has managed to distil the essence of , and codify the laws of what I think is generally considered to be the next big step in drumming, namely the ability to move at will through several parallel meters, whose relationship to the basic pulse can then be said to be ‘displaced’ or ‘modulated’. He has the cleanest and tidiest execution of any drummer I’ve ever heard. Try his group ‘Porcupine Tree’, or some of his excellent instructional books and DVDs.
In his own way, David also codified a language – the language of 16th note funk – with Tower of Power in the 1970s. Like all the drummers I’ve picked, there was really no-one else doing it quite that way at the time, so he wrote the rule book. ‘Squib Cakes’, ‘What is hip?’ ‘Oakland Strokes’ were all fantastic. When I heard the band play on Long Island, NY, USA in 1977, I’d never seen 2000 people leap to their feet with such an intense groove. Highly complex drumming, it never lost the simple strength and elegance of the groove.
The music was recorded direct to CD at concerts in Kristiansand and Trondheim in Norway, and Gateshead and Bath in the UK. Audience noise and applause has been removed. There has been a little editing, no mixing, no over-dubbing, and no fancy post-production cosmetic enhancement, so what you hear is about as true to the original performance as it is possible to get. The music was improvised without prior discussion as to tonality, tempo, duration, or any other extraneous expectation - we simply tried to get out of the way and allow the music to develop as it did. It did not exist before the concert; it came into existence, lived and died at the concert, and now cannot exist again outside its recorded form. It had the gossamer thin toe-hold on existence of the butterfly.
There are those who doubt the efficacy of a music that has not been sweated over for months in the rehearsal room, but in my experience there is a wonderful music that can only arise under the circumstances under which this music arose, and that cannot be arrived at by any other means. If, as a musician, you want to hear your 'inner man' speak, you need at minimum a stage, an audience, good instruments, and no idea what you are going to do next. 'Reacting in the moment' sounds precipitous, and fraught with danger; 'improvisation' is a word that makes people nervous. The original derivation of the word, however, indicates that which is 'unforeseen', and now we are getting much closer to the conversational purpose of the group.
Michiel and I are doing no more than conversing as two old friends, and we don't know in advance what we're going to talk about. We don't meet often. We like it that way - we have plenty to bring to the table through our refracted experiences elsewhere. The Art of Conversation requires a willingness to listen without prejudice, to contribute, and to build on what has gone before, for the enlightenment of all parties. Sometimes the conversation may be becalmed, no more than a water colour (Low Tide, Camber Sands), and sometimes it may be the raging flood of a breathless diatribe (From the Source, We Tumble Headlong). It might be teasing (Flirt), slightly sinister (Duplicity), or three minutes of Sheer Reckless Abandon. We don't know what it's going to be, and patience may be needed before it's true colours emerge. Whether it's the piano imitating my Chinese peacock gongs (Kinship), or the unexpected second-half of The Odd One Out; the slowly emerging hard swing of In Two Minds, or the melodious babble and scratching of Conference of the Bees, it's as much a surprise for us as it is for you.
Judging from audience reaction over recent months, it seems that the delight we find in our discoveries about each other resonates well with you, the active listener. The music has, of course, been 'worked on' for all our working lives, so those who need evidence of sweat need look no further. More importantly, it is the figment of two imaginations at full stretch, and the product of two minds which are trying hard to persuade their owners they have never played music before, and they are really just two kids in a great big sonic sandpit. We like it like that, and hope you do too. You can buy the CD right here from the online store.
Tracks: 12 Running time: 56' 34"
I think it must all stem from an incurable love of music, in the broadest sense. Not what you might be able to screw out of it, but what you may be able to give to it. What can you offer? To know that, you must know yourself, have some theory and technical ability, be flexible and imaginative. There are at least a dozen music-related jobs that exist for every one guy who gets on a stage, and its certain that you will spend some of your time doing some of those. You may think I'm a drummer, but I also teach, write words and music, run a small record label, book the band, road manage, travel agent, produce and publicise the heck out of it. You'll work if you can add value to something that's going on around you. If you can't, they might as well hire a machine.
I think I fell into Tama really without thinking about it much in about 1980 when my drum-tech Graham Davies produced some gear at the beginning of the K.C. rehearsals for Discipline. The catalogue was full of unlikely things - boobams (octobans) , Gong toms, brass snare drums, the new boom cymbal stands - all great stuff for King Crimson. Tama has been really great to me, and I've probably helped to sell a reasonable amount of gear for them. They make great drums, but they also are able to produce a kit to my spec in most cities round the world, saving a bundle on shipping costs. As a company they produce consistently high standard products, are loyal to their artists and pick up the phone quickly. What more could you want?
People are always asking me what I think about XYZ drums. The answer is always - 'nothing'. The only downside to endorsing a specific manufacturer is that I don't know anything about other manufacturers' drums because I never play them.
I played Swiss Paiste cymbals and gongs early on in my career mostly for reasons of price. Zildjian cymbals were expensive by the time they got to the UK, and the European alternative, Paiste, was more reasonable. Paiste also had the first listing of endorsing artists that I saw, with small diagrams of cymbals setups, called 'Drummer Profiles', stuffed with European jazz drummers, so that was cool. The cymbals were also heavily featured on the records by early E.C.M. jazz stars like Jon Christensen, Fredy Studer, and Jack DeJohnette. I loved that music, so was hip to that. It was and remains a family business deeply concerned about the relationship between the cymbals, the players, and the music they make together, and like Tama they are a constant stream of innovation. I never saw any reason to change.
Apologies, but we cannot help here. Summerfold and Winterfold exist only to re-issue re-mastered and expanded versions of Bill’s work, together with current and future recordings and related projects. Neither label signs or promotes new artists.
I'm an postgraduate student atttached to the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences at Surrey University, Guildford, UK., conducting doctoral level research into notions of creativity and the drum kit.
It's surprisingly uncommon practice, but I thought it might be interesting to offer some sketches of how several of my tunes began life. These demos are extremely rough because they were only intended for the ears of the musicians whose job it would be to bring them to life. Had they been required for a record company executive's decision for investment - the more usual purpose of demos - more care and attention would have been lavished. Musicians will tend to see the general thrust of the music more quickly than business people, and are happy enough with the rougher stone.
In the visual arts it's quite common to see preparatory studies alongside the finished work. Indeed, some prefer the incomplete sketch, holding out as it does an open-ended promise of how things might be or might have been. Audio demos or original sketches of the finished musical item have been increasingly possible with the advent of simple home-recording devices, and it was a visit to the Van Gogh museum to see the artist's 'Potato Eaters'and attendant sketches that provided the gestation for 'From Conception to Birth'.
The vinyl album 'From Conception to Birth' has 17 tracks spread over two 10" discs. 8 demos precede the relevant sections of their 8 released masters, allowing direct comparison, and there is one additional demo that never made it to master stage. The demos reflect my chequered history in the realm of home recording. Given my efforts with electronic percussion - or perhaps because of them - it may surprise some to learn I'm something of a technophobe, and nothing of a recording engineer.
Early demos were more or less straight into what we used to call a ghetto-blaster. That was followed briefly by Teac Portastudio 4-track cassette recordings, which rapidly morphed into my favourite axe, the Roland MC500. I played in the midi data from my Yamaha keyboard, and outputted to sounds from my Korg O1/W orchestra-in-a-box. Everything on sides 2, 3, and 4 was recorded that way. Low tech it certainly was, but I was pleased with my Holdsworth 'soundalike' guitar playing on 'Lingo', my cheesy 12-string guitar that I had the nerve to play Ralph Towner before the sessions for 'If Summer Had Its Ghosts', and the drumming on the unreleased 'Banyan'.
The only way you can get this currently (January 2012) is by buying the special limited edition of my autobiography from Foruli Publications ; it's part of the package. If demand is sufficient, Foruli may decide to give the album its own release.