Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bill Bruford, Earthworks|
Part & Yet Apart
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock
Yes, there's still progressive jazz
Dave | Jamesville, NY USA | 11/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frankly, most of what passes for jazz these days is talented players with little or no imagination, inspiration, or willingness to take a few risks. This album stays true to its roots, but also pushes the envelope. The pushes are subtle, as Bruford's latest edition of Earthworks performs seamless riffs and signatures, like 11/4 (whoh!). If you're looking for Crimson or Yes here, be reminded that Bruford (like Steve Smith, formerly of Journey, and Sting, to name a few) started out as jazz wannabe's, but were drawn in different directions. So, it's no accident that the progressive groupings of the 60's and 70's came about as a result of the widely varied musical background from whence they came. Some - unfortunately few - are still at it and naturally seek out the new talent to keep it fresh. Bruford, in any musical setting, remains in a class of his own. Great stuff."
"Jazz" for the Progressive Philistine
Snow Leopard | Urbana, IL | 11/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The two things missing from the helpful reviews of this disc below are detailed specifics about the songs and, most importantly, whether a fan of progressive rock would even like this stuff. This, then, is for people who come to Bruford primarily through King Crimson or Yes, and, to a lesser extent, his pre-Earthworks stuff.The disc opens with "No Truce with the Furies," kicking off on a rhythmic piano and bass line with an odd-metered feel to it behind which Bruford skips snare rolls and a steady metronome on the ride. Saxophone then introduces the main theme, edging the piece toward a jazzier feel than the opening suggests followed by an even more thoroughly jazzy piano bit. Some subdued ensemble mayhem full of catchy accents, instrumental flourishes and elegant transitions ensues with a return to the piano-bass and saxophone to close out the piece. For someone not jaded with jazz, this piece might well stand out as having more urgency than is normally associated with "this kind of jazz"."A Part, and yet Apart" (an inversion of Peter Hammill's closing sentiment from "A Plague of Lighthouse-Keepers"?) starts off with a mellow and easygoing swing feel topped by a lyrical soprano sax lead, then gives way to a more insistent section that gradually builds and flashes (too briefly) through some beautiful harmonized runs to return to the opening mellowness. This basic pattern repeats til the end, with various instruments getting lead duty and emotional crests (including the beautiful runs again). The pairing of the moods here seems especially fine and effective."Some Shiver, While He Cavorts" provides some deft musical grandstanding, starting with rich chords and some showy sax-piano-drum interplay informed by that linear piano line tendency that makes Bruford's compositions often seem energetic and motoric. After this ensemble display, a typically jazzy section kicks off, with running bass, skipping ride cymbal, lurching piano accents and, of course, the obligatory saxophone whirlwind. I normally don't like this sort of thing but, I have to say, somehow the pace gets whirling enough that I get caught up in it. The opening display then reprises, with even more development and panache, ending on a dramatic tremolo piano chord that resolves on a full root major chord quite satisfactorily. Definitely an ear-catcher, this one."Footloose and Fancy Free" immediately gets you into a new groove with Latin percussion and an inordinately yummy swing-funk bass, over which piano and sax introduce the main theme's quirky boppingness. (A short piano bass run harmonization between the verses alone justifies the song.) The theme thickens up harmonically as the piece builds, breaking completely into a sparse, playful piano bit followed by an atmospheric section to set up a return to the opening, this time with truly driving and scrumptious Latin-flavored percussion and piano. Truth be told, the song starts to drag then; the loosening up of things towards the end, despite being tied off by a crisp closing flourish, reads a bit like bored impatience from the players. Still, a very natty piece that fulfills the Brazilian prerequisite progressive Philistines expect a jazz album to have."Sarah's Still Life", opening on a piano interlude that veers pleasantly away from the typical arch chords I associate with meditative lounge jazz, afterwards settles into meditative lounge jazz for the duration. I think this music is lovely, if not perhaps uninspired and uninspiring; it is, in any case, far too lounge-jazz for my Philistine progressive tastes."The Emperor's New Clothes" dispels the previous still life with a throbbing bass note on the piano, followed by a whole slew of angular runs and harmonized arpeggios. It's kind of a one-trick pony, relying on the sheer duration of the idea to persuade you that it works, and generally succeeds. (A saxophone solo helps to disguise the compositional monotony, building to a jittery, harmonized arpeggio.) One of the best (too brief) transitions on the disc follows: gorgeous, silvery, exotic descending scales. It's passages like these where the influence of Progressive rock not only seem the most felt, but also the most welcome, keeping things from getting too much like "plain old jazz"."Curiouser and Curiouser" announces its quirky offness on a standup bass riff straight off, which gets full band treatment briefly, and then sinks into a truly yummy and falling chord progression. In general, the deliciously "eerie" solo instrument sections offset the "too-loungey" harmonies of the full band moments here, but the pure harmonic splendor of the progression isn't heard best until the close of this shortest piece on the album, when the piano and bass (I think) create a genuinely soul-thrumming buzz."Eyes on the Horizon" is one of those full-tilt workouts that steps too deeply into the (up-tempo) lounge-jazz thing for my tastes. In effect, this is big-band music played by a quartet, full of verve, crispness and not my gig at all."Dewey-Eyed, then Dancing" begins precisely with the feel of an after-hours solo dance (empty bar, lonely spotlight, meditative swing), that is suddenly interrupted by the handsomest chorus on the album, a lovely, almost straightforward cadence. The meditative mood then returns, but the cadence still seems to be creeping through the music subtly, hanging out in the background to finally return full force and wonderfully. There's genuine beauty and soulfulness here, carried off with an elegance that is everything but sterile. It's not anything progressive at all that gets me here--it's simply being captivated by a persuasive beauty.I realize I've not said much about Bruford's playing, but really, it goes without saying--it's a question finally of whether or not you don't mind the musical mode behind which he sets his ever-fascinating, ever-captivating drumming. Nothing like his progressive rock music, and similar to his earlier solo work only in compositional sensibility, nevertheless to my Philistine progressive ear there are enough traces of his earlier music to keep this disc from becoming the kind of brilliant and accomplished lounge-jazz I don't enjoy listening to."
Earthworks again defies musical boundaries
Johanna McKenna | North Bay, CA | 03/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Earthworks' sophomore lineup of Bill Bruford (drums), Patrick Clahar (saxes), Mark Hodgson (upright bass) and Steve Hamilton (piano) has produced an effort worth every penny to jazz and fusion fans alike. Although fans of traditional jazz may find more progressive efforts a bit harsh to the ears, this release takes Bruford back to his roots in jazz and will certainly appeal to even those that claim to be "purists." Absent are the electronic keys and chordal drums prevalent in earlier Earthworks releases ("Earthworks," "Dig?"), and in their place an acoustic instrumentation that lends itself well to the diversity of compositions. For instance, the title track is almost reminiscent of early Brubeck, while tunes such as "The Emperor's New Clothes" take on a decidedly more modern feel. The ending track, "Dewey-Eyed, Then Dancing" brings a romantic close to this very powerful recording."