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It is ultimately live where jazz happens. Recorded mostly in America, and partly in England on tour in 1992, the band's fourth CD, Stamping Ground, was indeed, live, one-take, no overdubs, and very real.
Bill Bruford's Earthworks: Bill Bruford (acoustic & electronic drums); Iain Ballamy (saxophone); Django Bates (Eb peck horn, keyboards); Tim Harries (acoustic & electric basses).
Recorded live at the Bottom Line, New York, New York on March 14 & 15, 1992; The Nightstage, Boston, Massachusetts on March 18, 1992; The Junction, Cambridge, England on May 22, 1992. Includes liner notes by Robert Sandall.
Bruford's jazzy side keeps getting hotter and hotter. This exciting wheel of live plastic really defines all that is best about contemporary jazz/rock amalgams; it's closer to fission than fusion. As the laser ignites the leadoff track, "Nerve," the able-minded listener gets the first good jolt of how Bruford's tight ensemble further embellishes and stretches its adroit chops off record and in front of an audience.
Iain Ballamy's sax is an unobtrusive yet probing element, replete with that emotive, languid sound shared by a host of European horn-players--Emil Mangelsdorff and Charlie Mariano come to mind--who don't shred the musical tarmac but rather flirt with adjunct rhythms and shaky time signatures. Django Bates is Ballamy's foil, peppering the stage with bizarre keyboard frills and his own shrill squeaks. Throughout all of this, both Bruford and bassist Tim Harries alternate between traditionalist, stately order ("A Stone's Throw") and erupting chaos ("Bridge of Inhibition"). With pristine sound further enhancing these performances, Bruford's credibility remains secure whether he's doing his jazz thing or his rock thing. His muse enables him to swing both ways splendidly.
Down Beat (11/94, p.62) - 4 Stars - Very Good - "...the group showcases [Bruford's] fine groovesmanship and advancing techniques on tuned electronic percussion--the chordal drums play melodies on several tracks. This fusion doesn't try to be cute. It jams..."
Bill Bruford Bill Bruford grew up with jazz. As an amateur drummer in the 1960s, and after a handful of lessons from Lou Pocock of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, he began his professional career in 1968. He was a guiding light in the so-called British "Art Rock" movement, touring internationally with Yes and King Crimson from 1968-74. There then followed several years spent observing and participating in the music making processes of, among others, Gong, National Health, Genesis and U.K., until Bill felt ready to write and perform his own music with his own band Bruford, recording four albums from 1977-80.Having already spent twenty years on the cutting edge of modern rock percussion, Bill Bruford formed Earthworks in 1986, as a deliberate return to his roots in jazz. Availing himself of the brightest young talent on the burgeoning U.K. jazz scene, namely keyboardist and tenor horn player Django Bates, and saxophonist Iain Ballamy, both best known as frontrunners with the anarchic big band Loose Tubes, Bruford encouraged the use of rock technology with jazz sensibility - the hall mark of Earthwork's stylish approach. By letting in air and light, and adding a little wit and wisdom, they produced a particularly British antidote to the increasingly grotesque jazz fusion scene. The first LP for Editions EG, Earthworks, was a testament to their achievement.
Stone's Throw, A - (Bonus Track)
It Needn't End In Tears: All Heaven Broke Loose / Psalm / Old Song
All Heaven Broke Loose: Psalm / Old Song - (Bonus Track)
Candle's Still Flicker In Romania's Dark
Bridge Of Inhibition
Hotel Splendour - (Bonus Track)
United States Of Dist.
...fine groovemanship and advancing techniques on tuned electronic percussion.