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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - Footloose and Fancy Free CD (album) cover

FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY FREE

Bill Bruford's Earthworks

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.14 | 22 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Including Bill Bruford's acoustic jazz quartet here at Prog Archives is more than just a token courtesy to a drummer whose rimshots have galvanized some of the best Progressive bands of the previous 30 years. Since he first poked his head out from under the Crimson umbrella in the middle 1970s, Bruford has accomplished something few other Prog artists have managed: he actually progressed, right out of the Art Rock ghetto and into that exclusive fraternity of world-class musicians for whom such mundane questions of genre and style no longer apply.

But make no mistake: this isn't Jazz Rock Fusion, or the sort of ersatz jazz pastiche that occasionally pops up in the middle of a 30-minute Flower Kings epic. This is the real thing, presented in its purest and most organic form: live in front of an intimate but enthusiastic audience, and played with enough heart and soul to make a believer out of even the most stubborn headbanger.

It was the live setting, as much as the marquee value of Bruford's sterling reputation, which recommended this two-disc package in the first place. I had lost touch with the drummer's solo career after his first few albums in the late 1970s, but the maturity of the songwriting here should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his background. The music is uniformly warm and sunny, composed and arranged with a confidence matched only by the deceptive ease of each performance.

Listening to the CDs, it's easy to understand how Bruford became frustrated with the cold, metallic precision of the double-trio KING CRIMSON in the 1990s. But you can still hear the echoes of his Prog Rock roots, particularly on the up-tempo jams of "Cloud Cuckoo Land", "The Emperor's New Clothes", and the exhilarating title track opening Disc One (fans of Bruford Levin Upper Extremities will also recognize the song "Original Sin", no less engaging for its lack of electronics in this version).

I won't spoil the newcomer's joy of discovery by cataloguing my list of highlights, which are pretty evenly distributed throughout the two discs and between each of the four players. Bruford remains, as always, a democratic bandleader, but it would be wrong not to at least mention his climactic drum solo in the "Bridge of Inhibition" encore. After the more measured playing in the rest of the set this song tosses and turns like a hyperactive Levantine belly dancer after too much strong Turkish coffee, and Bruford's solo spot, accompanied by a staccato piano and throbbing upright bass, is without exaggeration one of the most exciting two-and-one-half minutes in my entire music collection.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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