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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - Random Acts of Happiness CD (album) cover

RANDOM ACTS OF HAPPINESS

Bill Bruford's Earthworks

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.57 | 20 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The second consecutive live release by Bill Bruford's celebrated quartet is even stronger than "Footloose and Fancy Free", with enough cross-genre appeal to attract even those unrefined Progheads normally lacking the patience for traditional Jazz.

But of course this is hardly traditional Jazz, is it? Bruford may have stepped off the gravy train years ago, but the drummer's impeccable Prog Rock credentials give his new music an energy and drive not often found in even the most rocking of Jazz Rock fusions. The result is a louder and livelier set than on the earlier CD, vividly captured with near documentary you-are-there fidelity.

It helps that the band was playing a larger venue this time out, and to a crowd obviously comfortable with rock 'n' roll protocol (or lack thereof: Jazz audiences don't generally hoot and whistle with such raucous abandon). Their enthusiasm must have been contagious, and the band responds with fiery readings of (mostly) new material, all instrumental of course, and every song highlighting the dazzling virtuoso turns of pianist Steve Hamilton and new horn player Tim Garland.

The latter in particular shines in his melancholy bass clarinet introduction to "Bajo del Sol" (an otherwise energetic jam featuring one of Bruford's patented, rattling rimshot and trap solos, played over a backdrop of syncopated flamenco handclaps), and in the climactic "Speaking With Wooden Tongues", where he's either using some sort of note splitter or playing two saxophones simultaneously.

And then there's Bruford himself, a musician who knows more ways to dissect and reassemble a rhythm than any mere drummer I've ever heard. If you only know him through the music of KING CRIMSON or YES, and haven't yet acquired a taste for his recent, more orthodox Jazz recordings, this might be an ideal introduction to his post- Prog career: it's the work of an artist always looking forward, and at the same time returning to his Fusion roots, circa 1977. The two-part title track of his debut solo album "Feels Good To Me" even provides the suitably upbeat encore here.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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