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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - The Sound of Surprise CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford's Earthworks

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I don't get easily bored to listening on traditional jazz, and therefore I think I enjoyed this album very much. I think that Bill has recently done much more interesting and better material than his former King Crimson colleagues have managed to do. The sounds on this release are great, and the music has lots of interesting rhythmic ideas, which shouldn't elevate the sound of a surprise, as the compositions are mostly written by Bill. The recent Earthworks line-up has more neo-classical feeling in its music than the band's first incarnation had at the 1980's, and is thus more accessible to many listeners I believe. "Come to dust" is one of the most touching piece of music I have ever heard, and "Triplicity" has some rhythms which kind of I have never heard before (Bill playing simultaneously three different rhythms). "Teaching Vera to Dance" starts with a bass solo, symbolizing the dance step lessons to Vera, and after two minutes practices, the whole band accompanies the dance. "Half Life" sounds like a Red oriented King Crimson composition arranged for the acoustic jazz quartet. If you like jazz and Bill's works, would certainly recommend checking this album out. Following the high quality standards of DGM releases, there's also a funny mpg video clip of the band playing live here, more material found from "Footloose and Fancy Free" Live DVD.
Report this review (#36444)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Enjoying this CD for me requires right mood and condition. But there is prerequisite as well- I have to be able to accept jazz music. That's not really tough for me as basically I can enjoy the music under jazz category. It dated back in 1977 when I heard Chick Corea and his band Return To Forever delivered wonderful music of "The Endless Night". The stream of music was so captivating for my mind. I explored other albums of Chick Corea until I found terrific album "The Mad Hatter". Oh what a great music! I especially love "Tweedle Dum" which continues seamlessly to "Dear Alice" which really blew me away at first spin until now. Nothing compares to "Dear Alice"! It's so perfect as a powerful composition. Thanks to Chick Corea for showing me a taste of jazz music.

This album of Bill Bruford is different (even though not very significantly) from the music of Chick Corea where saxophone plays dominant role here - as well as piano. Structurally this album is less complex than Return To Forever or Chick Corea but the complexity stays at its arrangements and some textures of the music. Even I can confirm that this album is 90% jazz music while Return To Forever is 50% jazz. Take an example of track no. 6 "Come To Dust" which has relatively long saxophone solo augmented with excellent piano as rhythm section.

The style of jazz actually I can smell it right at the beginning of this album when the opening track "Revel Without a Pause" enters into my ears. The punctuations of jazz can be easily heard from the drum beats and piano rhythm that accompany saxophone as soloist. It's really enjoyable listening to Bill Bruford's style and the piano work that takes its turn to do solo work at approx minute 4:00. "Triplicity" starts off with excellent drum solo unique to Bill Bruford for one minute followed beautifully with great saxophone work and piano. "The Shadow of A Doubt" is a mellow jazz tune with nice accentuation of piano and drums. "Cloud Cuckoo Land" is another excellent track with dynamic combination of piano, drum and alto sax. There are many syncopated segments offered by this tune.

Well, I can only say that this is definitely an excellent jazz composition that anyone who has a sense of jazz music must own it. The composition is tight, songwriting is excellent and performance is great. Recommended!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#96045)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm afraid this album is not going to convert many proggers to BB's Earthworks, since most of the main themes are unmemorable (a common problem in modern jazz) and, try as I might, I find it hard to love Patrick Clahar's sax playing. I mean, the guy is GOOD, as dozens of saxophonists are, but he doesn't move me or carry me away. It does not surprise me that we haven't heard from him since he left Earthworks.

Pianist Steve Hamilton, on the other hand, provides at least one exquisite little solo on each track. Hamilton's only problem may be that he's a little too unassertive... One longs for jazz pianists who really make the earth move.

It's worth pointing out that the same band actually sounds far, far more exciting on FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY FREE, the superb double live CD that was released soon after this album. In a live situation THE SOUND OF SURPRISE's best tracks get reworked with far greater energy than here.

The fact remains that, if you're a true Bruford fan, this album will be worth buying for the master's contributions alone. As the years rolled by, Bill's playing kept getting better and better... If you're really enamoured of his style (be it with Yes, King Crimson or in whatever context) you'll definitely want to give this album a spin from time to time, just to remind yourself of the superb things Bill used to do. So let me recommend this album to all Bruford freaks, albeit with reservations.

Report this review (#125358)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A traditional jazz line up playing an acoustic fusion like no other, this album is gem from Bruford in both composition and talented drum play. Bruford really plays into this style of music with plenty of compound time signatures playing on the back beat . The usual bruford style of play. But the writing for the whole ensemble is what really made me love this album. The first track is a great example of this with the two trading melodys with the piano and sax, plus a great use for the alto which i don't hear much. The Musicians are the best part with a great cast of soloist, everone of them. This album also features lots of great transitions from slow ballad to fast swing to a cool bossa. All Executed perfectly. This Album is mostly jazz though and not so much fusion so don't expect any crazy keyboard solos or electric bass slap or anything. And thats the only reason i don't give it 5 stars seeing how its not prog at all. But that is no reason not to check it out cause i know if you liked Buford's one of a kind you'll like this one
Report this review (#181608)
Posted Wednesday, September 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you're there searching for some prog experiments from ex-Yes and KC drummer Bill Bruford - you will be very disapponted!

Even if you're fan of his solo works, the music here is different : shortly, you will find classic acoustic jazz. With no even small experiments or inventions.

But very high quality jazz - perfect techniques, perfect sound, nice melodies.

So there just two recommendations are possible in that case:

- if you are proghead searching for new prog from great prog-drummer, just forget about it! Zone of your interest is limited somewhere in Bruford solo albums.

- if you like jazz, and quite conservative, with high level technique, bright melodies and nice sound, I think you wouldn't be disappointed!

Report this review (#236483)
Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permalink

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