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Bill Bruford - Bruford: The Bruford Tapes CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.63 | 55 ratings

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3 stars A review by Rizal B Prasetijo (10 Jan 08)

In the investment banking world, especially if you work for an American company, when a compliance officer walks to your working station and give a material, you are supposed to immediately read, tell him that you have fully understood, and are ready to implement the "material" into the action. Putting forward your personal opinions, especially disagreement, on the material is strictly prohibited and could lead to the termination of your job. However, when Hamdi Riza Rachbani, my compliance officer, told me that he has a "special material" for me, he was indeed expecting my personal opinion on it.

The "special material" handed over to me was a CD, titled "The Bruford Tapes" (EG Records 1979 pressing). This rare CD is actually the live album of Bruford band's "Feels Good to Me" and "One of A Kind", broadcasted live from "My Father's Place", Roslyn, New York on WLIR ( FM92.7), in summer 1979. It was recorded on a two-track equipment. Thus, if you are an audiophilist, I warn you that you would hear an extremely high noise floor, which could disturb your ears, out of this recording.

The show was opened by the 4:20" jazz fusion composition, named "Hell Bells". David Stewart's synthesizer came in forcefully at 2 flats (C minor) before joining by Jeff Berlin's bass and Bill Bruford's drums. Alan Holdsworth's, recognized in the album as the "unknown" John Clark, came in last. That said, the fluidity of Holdsworth's guitar at 1:44" to 2:20" is a reminder to us that you are listening to one of the world's best guitarists. It is followed by Stewart-Berlin's duo on synthesizer and bass for 40 seconds up to 3:00". Berlin's quaver (eight) bass notes in this section is a truly ear dropping.

Initiated by 30 seconds Bruford's poly time signature drumming, the show was continued by 6:17" "Sample and Hold". The composition used various time and key signatures as well as complicated notes. The best parts of the piece, in my view, are the Holdsworth's eight-voice modulated delay technique, created a very piano-like sound from an ordinary electric guitar (you could hear it clearly at 0:50"-1:09", 1:24"-1:42", and 4:58"-5:15" sections) and Berlin's syncopated crotchet (quarter) bass notes from 2:25"-2:40".

Having made a 43 second communication to audience, the band played the 7:25" (including the communication) "Fainting in Coils". Listen carefully to the interesting Holdsworth-Berlin's guitar-bass duo at 1.48"-2.20", Holdsworth-Stewart's guitar-keyboard duo at 3:02"-3:57", and Stewart's staccato single chord combined with Holdsworth's sitar-like semiquaver (sixteenth) guitar notes at 5:12"-6:03". While each of musicians was given time to show their technical skills, their collaborations truly made the composition an interesting piece.

The next 4:38" "Travels With Myself - And Someone Else" is a mellow jazzy composition. Unfortunately, Jeff Kracke, the recording engineer, decided to end this piece unnaturally. The main attraction here is Berlin's quaver and semiquaver bass notes between 2:37"-3:31".

Opened up by energetic Stewart's legato keyboard notes, the 3:35" Beelzebub must rejuvenate the audience, who had been toned down by the previous mellow piece, at the "My Father's Place". Berlin's bass and Bruford drumming musically matched with Stewart's legato notes, while Holdsworth's guitar liners gradually induced a second ambiance to the composition, especially at 1:58"-3:08".

Having made another 22 seconds communication to the audience, the band played its experimental composition called the "Sahara of Snow" part 1 (5:00, including the 22 seconds communication) and part 2 (3:00"). The piece's title depicts a contradiction situation, doesn't it? The composition was initiated by Stewart's avant-garde keyboard sounds, combined with Holdsworth's distorted sustained guitars sounds, and Bruford's percussions. Then Stewart's solo keyboard came in at 2:54"-3:34". The second part was marked by Stewart's staccato chords for 22 seconds, followed by Holdsworth's solo guitar (with various guitar sounds) on the back of Berlin's simple crotchet bass notes.

No explanation why the band didn't play the first part of "One of A Kind" and decided to only gig the 8:00" second part of the piece. Initiated by Belin's 32 seconds bass liners, one of the best fusion jazz instrumental songs is evidence how Bruford band's members were able to collaborate. Bruford's jazzy drumming (cymbals, sometimes snare drums and tom-tams, and no bass drum) gradually changed into full drumming between 2:04"- 3.00" aided by Berlin's bass, Holdsworth's guitar, and Stewart's piano. At 4:28", the ambiance changed. I'm not sure whether the clarinet-like sound in 4:38"-5:22" was generated from Stewart's keyboard or from Holdsworth's legato phrasing guitar technique with light picking, caused a distorted guitar amplifier to produce a reedy, clarinet-like tone. However, having also heard the second harmonic behind the sound, I think there is a strong likelihood that the clarinet-like sound was generated from Hodlsworth's guitar.

The last song in the album, the "5G", is actually one of the most energetic songs written by the band. However, again, Mr. Kracke decided to end the song unnaturally and really send my angry nerve to the stratosphere level. It was opened by energetic and forceful phased bass riffs by Jeff Berlin (similar to Tetsuo Sakurai of Casiopea's bass riffs), followed by Stewart's fast tempo keyboard before Holdsworth's guitar notes breaking into at 1:32".

I wish I could be at the "My Father's Place" on July 12, 1979 and watch the show lively. It must be a great experience. Happy listening!

Best regards, Rizal Prasetijo

A review by Gatot Widayanto (Jan 2005)

This album is a MUST for those of you like Bruford's previous studio albums "Feels Good To Me" and "One of A Kind". Recorded direct to 2 tracks from "My Father's Place", Roslyn, New York on WLIR FM 92.7, July 12, 1979. In this live recording, Bill features the "unknown" guitarist JOHNN CLARK that plays pretty "similar" with Allan Holdsworth. As I have reviewed Bruford's studio albums in my past reviews, I consider that the music is a pure jazz-rock fusion with dynamic drumming, excellent bass line, improvised keyboard and stunning electric guitar. This kind of music has inspired bands like FINNEUS GAUGE.

This live album kicks off with Hell's Bells ["One of A Kind" album] in an uplifting mood. Its melody is dominated by DAVE STEWART's keyboard followed with John Clark's guitar and bass riffs . It's a nice track.

Sample and Hold opens with a wonderful solo drum, sometimes in staccato style, with unique time signatures. The music then flows into a fusion style with each instrument seems to play in different direction but produces incredible harmony sounds. This is very obvious especially on the combination of keyboard works and drumming, augmented with great guitar fills and bass line. The composition itself is complex, performed in relatively fast tempo with some tempo changes and transitions to quieter passages. The musical passage at the end of the track features duet of guitar and keyboard, accompanied by drumming.

Track 3 starts off with a welcoming speech by Mr. Bruford and explanation of the frst two tracks that he reckoned even with that, the band has not started yet. And he then says ".this music tells me that we must test .Fainting in Coils!" [ it is followed with a soft repeated keyboard chords in crescendos; continued with the entrance for full music play]. It seems like Bruford's speech replacing studio version's narration by SAM ALDER, ALICE ANTHEA, NORMAN TAYLOR and THE MOCK TURTLE BILL BRUFORD. It's enough to set the overall tone of this beautifully composed track. The solo keyboard sound and guitar fills are backed by stunning bass playing and drumming to accentuate the melody. The main music that flows is a kind of the four instruments' sound do not blend in harmony but it produces wonderful sound. I like it! Every musical segment of this track creates an orgasmic and memorable melody, especially the tagline melody which is played repeatedly. This live version is much more improvised. If you never heard BRUFORD, I would suggest you to play the studio version of this track first; taken from "One of A Kind" album. It's amazing!!!

Travels With Myself - And Someone Else is a very nice slow track with great electric piano, keyboard and guitar works. Dave Stewart's style is similar (or in the vein of) WEATHER REPORT keyboard play. Jeff Berlin's bass is also nice here. Unfortunately, this track is intentionally cut off before it ends naturally.

Beelzebub is, as you know, a very energetic track opened with the combination of keyboard and drumming augmented with Jeff Berlin's bass line. When the keyboard turns into an ambient mood, the guitar work enter the music. The music has frequent tempo changes featuring different solo for each guitar and keyboard. I like the exploration of electric guitar solo in the vein of Holdsworth which sometime use a long sustain style.

The Sahara of Snow part 1 and 2, taken from "One of A Kind" album, is performed in its entirety - more dynamic than the studio album. It starts off with a sound exploration in the vein of avant-garde music; ambient in style. The repeated chords of keyboard in continuous stream with an increasing register remark the entrance to a full music. The bass line accentuates this part and brings the music to let Mr "Unknown" to perform his Holdsworth style. It's a very enjoyable part. At the intro of part 2, the tempo changes into slower pace with a repeated bass line augmented with powerful drumming sounds. Electric piano accentuates the guitar solo.

One of A Kind is my favorite track and represents the first song I knew about Bruford's music. But it's a regret here that, unlike the "Sahara of Snow" that has two parts, this time is only part 2 being played. Uuughh .. What a regret for me personally because I like part 1 which is very dynamic tune. I don't know what's the reason of putting off part 1 but I guess it's because the limitation of LP capacity. But, actually the band can choose the part 1 recorded here than part 2. My best guess they put part 2 is because this is the part when all the "wild" improvisations take place. I must agree on this as - despite my regret of not putting part 1 - this part two is performed flawlessly. Musically, I have to salute and admire the band on this. So then, to kill my curiosity about part one, I used to play the studio version of this track right after listening to this CD.

Five G is a typical jazz rock fusion music with dynamic bass at intro part, played excellently by Jeff Berlin. And I think this track is performed much better in this live version. Unfortunately .(it's another BIG regret that I have with this album) it's not performed in its entirety for (I think) the limited capacity of LP at that time. I even hate why this track is featured in this CD as it ruins the overall listening pleasure of this CD. For me, this track fades out in a very rude way .. Too bad! (being the fact also that this is a concluding track that actually should serve as a climax to satisfy listeners).

So, what can I say about this CD? Musically, I'm very happy with the almost flawless performance of Bruford, Stewart, Berlin and Clark. They are successful in bringing the studio tracks into more lively nuances. However, the "fading out" technology has erupted my respect, overall, to this live recording. For a great fan of Bruford's previous studio albums, it's a big regret. It's not professional at all to cut the songs (it happens two times in this live record). I hate it! If all songs are presented in full, I would rate this live recording with four stars; but with this condition I would only give three stars maximum. As for the readers, be careful if you consider buying this CD. If you have no issue at all with "cutting off" song, then it's OK. On recording quality, it's OK but it would be better is some more bass sound is added. Keep on Progging! Progressively Yours, GW - Indonesia. [the land where prog is not a norm, but . we have conducted two PROGFEST and many of PROGNITES. Come over to my country and do your gigs down here .. we have a group of prog lovers here .]

Gatot | 3/5 |


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