Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Review: Bill Bruford - A Part And Yet Apart

‘A Part, And Yet Apart’ marks the recorded debut of Bill Brufords Earthworks second coming – Earthworks Version 2, if you like. Having won over the jazz world with the first incarnation of the band, Bruford briefly yet successfully helped reform rock group King Crimson for three very strong years, before deciding to re-kickstart his jazz quartet.

Whereas though the first band had heavily featured Brufords experimental electronic drumkit, the sound with this newer line-up, with its members pulled from a very strong burdgeoning London jazz scene, is focused entirely on all-acoustic music. For the most part too, the tunes here are composed by Bruford, with the exception of ‘The Emperors New Clothes’ by saxophonist Patrick Clahar and pianist Steve Hamilton.

The afore-mentioned piece is also the perkiest number here, with a tropical melody that brings to mind the marimba and other similar percussion sounds, while the title track is a clear highlight from the first beat, with its bouncing bass line courtesy of Mark Hodgson and skittish drums and flourishes from the bandleader. The sudden shift in tempo and addition of rippling arpeggios from the saxophone and piano seals the deal.

Another favourite is the scrambling rhythm of ‘Some Shiver, While He Cavorts’, whereas elsewhere we get a solid if obligatory feeling ballad in the form of ‘Sarahs Still Life’, and a nice bop in ‘Eyes On The Horizon’. Bruford though knows his audience, and knows that we want to hear a patented Bruford polyrhythmic drumming frenzy, and as such we get two such treats on ‘No Truce With The Furies’ and ‘Footloose And Fancy Free’. Here the band locks into a tight repeating riff, whilst Bruford opens up laying down a percussive volley that manages to be both highly intricate and danceable.

A solid debut for Brufords second quartet to go under the banner of Earthworks, the music and the musicianship are here in spades, and will surely go toward gaining the band a solid fanbase. A certain something seems to be missing at times, which is perhaps down to the dry production. Live, this band certainly delivers the goods, and as much as this recording may feel like a more polite version of the live experience, this is a good flavour of what they are about and showcases Brufords rhythmic flair nicely.


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