The challenging circumstances surrounding this were described in my book. Musically, it doesn’t get much better than to have some of you own music arranged for a little big band of crack NYC players and to be able to present it in a top NYC jazz club. Steve Wilson’s alto sax solo on ‘Up North’ alone is worth the price of admission. Check this out – I can’t begin to tell you what fun it is to play drums in the middle of this lot.
Like any conversation between friends, improvisations may get heated, boring, amusing, poetic, argumentative, aggressive, and sullen in varying amounts and at different times, and in musician Glenn Sweeney’s eloquent phrase, they may be ‘as alike or unalike as trees’. ‘Low Tide, Camber Sands’ is no more than a water-colour of a well-known British beach on a hot, hazy windless afternoon; nevertheless, one of my personal favourites.
My last CD of fresh material, released in 2009, will always have a special place in my heart, as does my first CD with Yes recorded some 40 years earlier. It’s a long way between the two, in all respects. A composer (Colin Riley) supervises a jazz drummer who used to be a rock drummer (me) playing with a group of classical pianists best known for performing systems music (Pianocircus). Skin and Wire blends electronica, jazz and the avant-garde.
22 tracks from some 21 musicians with whom I consider it a privilege to have worked since 1987. This double album concludes with an acoustic version of ‘Beelzebub’, the first tune I wrote, bringing things neatly full circle. The ‘sound of surprise’ is as good a definition of jazz as you’ll find anywhere; here’s a Japan-only release of the title track of the CD ‘The Sound of Surprise’.
The blueprint broadly was that the drummer would play some of the chords and harmony from the newly-invented electronic drumset, the only chordal support for the single-note bass and frontline. Best heard here on ‘Bridge of Inhibition’, the idea blossomed fully with the arrival of a more sophisticated drumset a couple of years later.
Electronic drums in jazz – not for the faint-hearted. This is a great sounding record, mixed and recorded with the kind of care usually only afforded to rock records. Django and Iain were a golden team. ‘Stromboli Kicks’ is perhaps the best realisation of the original plan for the group.
Recorded in early 1991 in the same 100 hours it took coalition ground forces to eject Iraq from Kuwait, in which presumably all hell broke loose. Django Bates’ absence one day to collect a Jazz Award caused producer David Torn to dig deep – his work with a harmoniser on Ballamy’s tenor saxophone on ‘Temple of the Winds’ made the remaining trio sound huge.
Favourite track here is ‘Nerve’, with it’s backward-forwards-stop-go funk. I couldn’t really play it on ‘All Heaven’, the original recording, but a few weeks on the road and it’s nailed. Also Django’s melancholic and beautiful ‘Candles Still Flicker in Romania’s Dark’. We were privileged to be one of very few UK jazz outfits to regularly tour the US in the 1990’s.
All the drummers were turning in muscular jazz-rock, and I was after something more dreamy, autumnal and lyrical. The instruments would be all acoustic and intimately recorded in close-up, whispering in your ear. Nothing wrong with the plan, but the music could have used some rehearsal. It was recorded straight from the page. Check out Ralph’s delicious 12-string acoustic guitar playing on the title track. Good enough to eat.
The title refers to the idea of wanting to be a part of something, but yet being regarded by others - or yourself - as still an outsider. Too jazz for rock, and too rock for jazz. Earthworks needed a come-back album that took no prisoners, and much of this I really like. Great stuff here from pianist Steve Hamilton and saxophonist Patrick Clahar on ‘Dewey-eyed, then Dancing’.
My personal favourite of all my solo efforts. The‘difficult’ cover artwork was issued erroneously in two forms, causing unhelpful confusion.‘Revel Without a Pause’, ‘Come to Dust’, ‘The Wooden Man Sings…’ represent three of my more successful compositions. Here’s some drum action from ‘Revel…’
5 Stars: Downbeat. ‘Live’ is where jazz happens, where the risks are taken, the mistakes made, and the energy unleashed. Recorded live in London’s Soho, this double CD has a snappy version of ‘Original Sin’ on it; a piece that I originally wrote for B.L.U.E. with Tony Levin. Here’s some excellent Steve Hamilton piano-playing from ‘A Part and Yet Apart’.
A companion DVD to the live CD ‘Footloose in Fancy Free’, this was recorded at the now defunct Bottom Line club in NYC in 2001. Crimson bass-player Tony Levin was in the audience – we played ‘Original Sin’ for him.
Summerfold’s first release in 2004. I had a working band, and after several years of steady touring we had trust, empathy, and sharp reactions. This, the eighth Earthworks CD, features Tim Garland, a huge fan of the music of the old electric Bruford band of the late 1970s, which he’d grown up with. At his request we revisited a couple of tunes from that band; ‘One of a Kind’ and ‘Seems Like a Lifetime Ago’
Drummer Bill Bruford's records, DVDs, and related projects are released on either Summerfold or Winterfold Records ...and are available at the shop
SUMMERFOLD RECORDS has been created to re-issue re-mastered and expanded versions of his work since 1987, together with current and future recordings and related projects.
"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 earlier 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.
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