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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - A Part, and Yet Apart CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford's Earthworks


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.99 | 38 ratings

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Moogtron III
Prog Reviewer
4 stars What a treat, what a treat! And... Bill Bruford has done it again. I mean: I grew up listening to rock music and classical music. I never liked anything with jazz, not even jazz rock, until I listened to Bill Bruford's late seventies / early eighties fusion albums. Then suddenly my ears were open to jazz rock. Since then I tried out pure jazz, but I couldn't appreciate it. Until I found this album: the first jazz record that I like as much as some of my favourite prog rock records. So Bill has done it again: opening my ears for a different style.

Okay, now it's time to look at the record for its own merits. It is a jazz record: unlike the albums of Earthworks mark 1, this Earthworks outfit plays an almost acoustic form of jazz. Almost, because there's still some synthesizer at the background from time to time. Very subtle, but effective: often it's the cream on the cake. Bruford's brushes and Mark Hodgson's acoustic bass show that the music is strongly rooted in bebop, though. Like Bruford once said about himself: he's only with one foot in rock, and then only three toes. This album proves his point, though I think here it's only two toes.

I would rate the album with four stars. Because it's innovative? No, it scores low on innovation. It sounds like trad jazz with some distant rock influences. The strength is to be found in three aspects:

1. The very strong compositions, mostly due to Bruford's talent of contributing highly melodic themes. Most themes are from Bruford himself, and on this album he was on a compositional high.

2. Once again Bruford surrounded himself with a very good band. All of the players excel on their instrument. Steve Hamilton is a piano player whose playing will appeal many prog fans, and sax player Patrick Clahar is responsible for the emotional high on the album's closing track. Mark Hodgson's acoustic bass and Bruford's drums seldomly come to the foreground, but when you listen closely to them, you find that they are as important for the band as the other instruments.

3. The main reason why I would give this album four stars instead of three is because this album might open prog listeners' ears to jazz. The album is jazz, but never has any moments of self-indulgent noodling. And because of the highly melodious content, this album might well be a good place for some prog listeners to start with jazz. You might even like the fast improvisations on Hamilton's Eyes On The Horizon, where Hodgson's bass sounds like a cafeine intoxicated bumble bee on a trampoline. Yes, this is hard bop, a style which I never thought I would appreciate. But Bruford and his troupe do know how to change your perspective.

One tiny point of critique: the album is, no doubt, like most (all?) jazz records for the biggest part born out of improvisation, but sometimes the album is almost on the edge of sounding a bit too polished. Almost. But the album never gets boring, and at its best the album sounds glorious, as on album highlights Footloose And Fancy Free and Dewey-Eyed, Then Dancing.

A jazz record for prog listeners.

Moogtron III | 4/5 |


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