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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - Stamping Ground - Live CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford's Earthworks

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars One of the best live albums i ever heard, an impresive coallition of good musicians and a perfect performance, every piece of music fits perfect along the evening, from hard-to-understand notes and tempos to moody moments. A perfect 10 to the band because in here they show how prog and jazz must be blended. The electronic sounds and natural sounds come from the same source: the mind, Bruford in it´s best. A must in ANY collection
Report this review (#28154)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album presents us the live condition of the earlier incarnation of Bill Bruford's Earthworks. The sounds are more electronically orientated if compared to the records of the later version of this band, featuring new players except the drummer maestro. I'm much fonder of his later neo-classical acoustic jazz stuff, but there are many interesting compositions and details found here too, and of course the musicians are true professionals. Nevertheless the stylistic choices practiced here have affected severally to the listening rates of this record for me. My favorite here is the tender tune "It Needn't End In Tears", which opens with Iain Ballamy's fabulous saxophone solo, which is later joined by the band in a very delicate manner. Though I didn't appreciate this stuff completely, I think that many fans of jazz / fusion prog rock might like this CD more than the later records of this band, as it is closer to the style of conventional jazz rock than the later traditional material by this fabulous band are.
Report this review (#36446)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This generous live album will show you how good the first incarnation of Earthworks really was. Bill Bruford himself uses electronic drums sensitively (i.e. not too often); most of the first Earthworks' best compositions are included; and since this is a live recording, the music sounds more spontaneous and less clinical than on the studio albums. In fact, some of the music is so beautiful I almost got tears in my eyes... 'It needn't end in tears', you see, is a delightfully bluesy, sax-led ballad; and on 'Pilgrim's Way' Iain Ballamy plays some lovely soprano sax (shades of Wayne Shorter) on top of a subtle 'chordal drums' pattern. 'Up North' is one of my favourite Earthworks pieces: a highly catchy melody, for which Ballamy and Django Bates pair up on sax and euphonium. (The same pairing can be heard on the deeply moving 'Candles Still Flicker in Romania's Dark', which reminds me of those vocal duets in Mozart's REQUIEM and in certain baroque cantatas.)

Even if you're not too interested in Earthworks as a band, STAMPING GROUND is still worth, buying because Django Bates is undoubtedly the most gifted keyboard soloist Bill Bruford ever worked with. (With the possible exception of Rick Wakeman - but even then I have my doubts.) Oh, I know, I dearly love Dave Stewart, whose keyboard arrangements on Bill's FEELS GOOD TO ME and ONE OF A KIND are lovely; but as a soloist (particularly on piano) the unpredictable Bates is quirkier and more exciting. (Subsequent Earthworks keyboardists have all been NICE, but none were as idiosyncratic as Bates.)

A warning: 'Nerve', the opening track, may sounds a little mechanical and relentless; don't let that put you off from the rest of the album, which is much more approachable. A tip: most of the tracks featured here are also available (in different performances) on one of those splendid Earthworks DVDs which appeared in 2007.

Report this review (#175282)
Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars It's fairly well established that in the drumming heirarchy there is Bill Bruford and Neil Peart at the top, with everyone else below. Both of these drummers are experts at electronic drumming, and both have shown an ear for jazz (both also appeared on Peart's Buddy Rich tributes). While I happen to love listening to both of these drummers, in my opinion, Bill Bruford wins for all the different bands he's played with, and all of the styles he has mastered.

With Earthworks, Bruford plays a more traditional jazz, with his fusion roots taking a back seat. But however much he wants this to be known as traditional, his fusion chops, the way he adds so many polyrhythms into even the most mundane groove, and his adepts work on the electronic drums, keep the music firmly footed in the fusion realm.

This is a great set from start to finish. His band was perfectly in synch with what Bruford was trying to accomplish, playing sophisticated jazz around some pretty incredible drumming and synth triggers. Iain Ballamy and Django Bates, both with Earthworks since the band's inception, provide perfect horns and keyboard accompaniment to all of the tunes. Bass player Tim Harries, while certainly competent on acoustic, is superb on the songs where he gets to play electric.

My favorite tracks are the more abstract ones, where Bruford writes melodies that evoke Five Percent For Nothing from "Fragile", although much more developed. Nerve, and especially Emotional Shirt fall into this category. But the best track is Bridge Of Inhibition, which features Bruford playing the melody on synth patches while also mastering the beat. The song segues into some wild soloing before ending back with Bruford triggering the synths again.

This may be the Earthworks album to get.

Report this review (#473177)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink

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