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Moraz & Bruford - Music For Piano And Drums CD (album) cover

MUSIC FOR PIANO AND DRUMS

Moraz & Bruford

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.25 | 37 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Here's a case of the whole being less than the sum of its parts. Bill Bruford is my favorite "prog" drummer, hands down. I don't have a favorite keyboardist, but Patrick Moraz had a lot to do with Yes's fusion-laced Relayer, which I consider the best prog-rock album ever. Music for Piano and Drums suggests, though, that while musicians of the caliber of Moraz and Bruford may be necessary for the creation of a great work, neither of these musicians is sufficient to ensure greatness.

Music for Piano and Drums was entirely performed and produced by Moraz and Bruford, and Moraz wrote six of the eight songs, with the others being Moraz-Bruford compositions. As a prog-rock LP from former members of Yes, Music for Piano and Drums seems restricted by its lack of input from outside writers and/or producers. On the other hand, we can tell from the title that the duo didn't intend to produce a prog-rock LP by former members of Yes.

The concept of this album was to create music for two players, one on a grand piano, the other on a traditional (acoustic) drumkit. There are no overdubs. So there are no vocal harmonies - - no singing at all - - and absolutely none of the studio embellishments that often adorn Yes and Moody Blues albums.

That means that the quality of Music for Piano and Drums rests on the performances and the compositions. In terms of performance, both Bruford and Moraz are, as they say, on fire. Moraz is particularly spectacular, and it's wonderful to be able to hear him so clearly. With its focus on improvisation and extended soloing, Music for Piano and Drums is actually as much like a traditional jazz album as a rock-fusion or "smooth jazz" recording where postproduction and atmosphere play a bigger part.

The compositions are solid, although they're nothing special in my book. There are exceptions; for example, on "Blue Brains" Moraz cleverly perverts the vamp of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman." "Children's Concerto" is akin to a fanfare, and is a nice way to open the proceedings. Most of the rest seems to have been largely improvised in the studio, and here is where I think an independent producer or outside composers could've made a difference. But again, Music for Piano and Drums wasn't that kind of album.

This is an album for fusion fans who value conceptual purity, and for fans of piano-based jazz. It's also a must for Yes completists and for Moraz or Bruford collectors. But for those interested in Yes-like music without the word "Yes" on the cover, I'd suggest Starcastle. If you want to hear rock music played by former members of Yes, there's always Flash. There's also The Steve Howe Album and Chris Squire's Fish Out of Water, on which both Moraz and Bruford are featured.

Finally, I'll mention Moraz and Bruford's second album, Flags (1985), which is similar to, but in my opinion improves upon, Music for Piano and Drums.

patrickq | 3/5 |

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