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Bill Bruford's Earthworks - Earthworks CD (album) cover


Bill Bruford's Earthworks


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.23 | 62 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Band-leader Bill Bruford has taken a whole new musical direction with his Simmons drums' MIDI sound capabilities-- gathering young up-and-coming jazz musicians around him to create some of the freshest new "jazz" music the planet had heard.

1. "Thud (4:14) some Crimsonian "industrial" bass and drums laid down for the rhythm track while the horns and horn keys establish a syncopated, staccato melody above. The synth soloing that takes the first lead starting at 0:50 sounds very much like a joyful Chick Corea foray. The soprano sax takes the next turn, spewing notes out at an impressive speed in a very nice, fluid Kenny G solo. Mick Hutton's gorgeous double bass play beneath provides all the engine needed to keep this one on the road as Bill starts to play a little with the timing belt beneath. While the solos are all stellar, it's Mick's bass that keeps me happy (and I'm oh, so happy). (9.25/10)

2. "Making a Song and Dance (5:56) the opening motif of this song is one of the band's most signatory: sheer music magic with tinkling piano flourishes, fast-walking double bass, beautiful soprano sax melody-making all played over Bill's Simmons drum-delivered MIDI chord sequence--until 2:45 when two "Owner of a Lonely Heart"-like cymbal crashes signal a shift to a more gruff motif--which then, quite magically, becomes smooth and gorgeous as tenor sax takes over the melody delivery with some gorgeous play. The band then shifts back to the song's original motif for the final minute with some more beautiful soprano sax melody-making taking us to the end. Such a cool song! (9.75/10)

3. "Up North" (5:28) another song that got radio (and VH1) airplay. Simple and melodic. This is part Joe Jackson, part Jazz Crusaders, part pop-elevator schlock, but it works! (8.667/10)

4. "Pressure" (7:26) opens like some heavy techno-rock 80s song before the horns arrive. Then at 1:45 there's a radical stop-and-shift to a sensitive piano-based sensitive jazz piece that turns full-bop in the fourth minute. Nice jazz drumming, Bill. Nice jazz piano playing, Django! Nice jazz double bass play, Mick! Very nice. Reminds me a lot of Chick Corea's jazziest piano play. At 5:25 we then bridge to a more industrial Crimsonian pulse motif. Bill really goes off while the horns and bass support. At 6:40 we iump into a big band-like finish. Cool! (13.25/15)

5. "My Heart Declares a Holiday" (4:40) opening with a Crimsonian "Discipline" polyrhythmic weave. It's as if you were to combine the song "Discipline" with some Miles banking and soloing. A top three for me (cuz I love that minimalist sound and feeling of "Discipline"). A top three song. (9/10)

6. "Emotional Shirt (4:48) the foray into avant-garde music: part hypnotic minimalistic chromagnum part Thelonius Monk and/or Don Pullen free jazz. May be accomplished but it's not my favorite. (8.25/10)

7. "It Needn't End in Tears" (5:15) old-style love ballad given a William Henderson (Pharoah Sanders) keyboard treatment. (8.667/10)

8. "The Shepherd Is Eternal" (1:52) picking up on the cross-cultural appropriation that artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Peter Gabriel were doing ? 9. "Bridge of Inhibition" (4:17) and then moving more into the straight jazz territory that Miles still had his feet cemented in is what this pier of songs feels like they're doing (they're even using some Sketches of Spain melodies!)-- only add a bit of Broadway musical pit orchestra (coming from Bill's Simmons drums MIDIed sound programs) to it and then, Boom! You have it! (Nice trombone from Django Bates.) (8.667/10)

Total Time 43:56

Though I played this album to death when it first came out, when it came time to writing a review for it, it had been a long time. But it is amazing how familiar it is and how much I enjoy it. But now, with many years and many, many more albums to reference inside my assimilative brain, I can see how many old and new musical sounds and styles are reflected herein. Miles Davis, Chick Corea/Return to Forever, Pat Metheny Group, and of course, the industrial sounds of King Crimson, the angular chords and melodies of both Dave Stewart and Allan Holdsworth are all present and accounted for in these song expressions--all gathered and synthesized through Bill and company's conscious and unconscious minds. Mind-expanding and brilliant!

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any Jazz-Rock Fusion lover's music collection--and definitely an essential listening experience for any prog music historian.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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