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Bill BRUFORD Featuring Tim GARLAND – Random Acts Of Happiness 2004

Posted in Bill BRUFORD, JAZZ, Tim GARLAND on November 23, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Bill BRUFORD Featuring Tim GARLAND – Random Acts Of Happiness 2004


Bill Bruford is quite rightly regarded as one of the finest drummers in the world through his work with Yes, King Crimson, UK and his work with Patrick Moraz not forgetting his own band Bruford. In fact in 1969 Bill had already been noticed by the great Buddy Rich who was to comment “Hey, that’s a good drummer…Good hands!” Praise indeed. Bill Bruford however has always been a huge fan of Jazz and so inevitably it was jazz that Bill turned to when he wanted to expand his musical horizons. Bill formed the band Earthworks in 1986 with the idea of integrating electronic drums and percussion into a jazz situation. Previously electronic drums had been seen as a novelty and more or less ignored by the jazz community. However by the mid eighties Bill felt that technology had moved on to such an extent that the introduction of electronic drums into a jazz set up would not only be viable but musically worthwhile. The band was made up of Bill on drums and percussion and young jazz musicians Django Bates, Ian Bellamy and Mick Hutton. The band recorded their debut album the self titled Earthworks which was released in 1987. The band set about playing dates and subsequently followed this up with their second release Dig in 1989 and another studio album, All Heaven Broke Loose in 1993. Following the bands live album Stamping Ground in 1994 Bill turned his attention back to work with King Crimson and for the next few years worked with Robert Fripp not only in King Crimson but also other improvisational projects connected with King Crimson. In 1997 Heavenly Bodies was released which provided an introduction to the music of Earthworks as a fine compilation of tracks from the bands releases to date and included one unreleased live track. By the time the band had returned to full time activity not only the line up had changed but also the musical direction. Whilst the music was still definitely jazz Bill felt that he had taken the electronic drums direction as far as it could go and the band was now an acoustic based jazz quartet which now included Bruford, Steve Hamilton, Patrick Clahar and Mark Hodgson The new line up of Earthworks wasted no time in recording the album A Part and Yet Apart in 1999 and The Sound Of Surprise in 2001. This line up was also responsible for the live album Footloose And Fancy Free that was recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience at dates in London during 2001. An accompanying DVD was also filmed in New York and entitled Footloose In New York. Having re established themselves both live and in the studio the band then set about recording their next album and the decision was taken to record another live album. The album, Random Acts Of Happiness was recorded in San Francisco at the celebrated jazz club Yoshi’s in Summer 2003. This album also sees the recording debut of the latest line up of Earthworks and includes the most recent member Tim Garland who replaced Patrick Clahar. As the magazine Downbeat said in a review of Earthworks in 2002 “It’s no surprise anymore how good Earthworks is”
Product Description
Random Acts Of Happiness is a very special album not least because it is the most recent album in a long line of quality releases from this band but also because it is the inaugural release on the Summerfold records Imprint which will be followed no doubt by many more Earthworks releases in the future.
Recorded in May 2003 at Yoshis, Oakland, California’s premiere jazz venue, Random Acts of Happiness features multi-instrumentalist Tim Garland’s recording debut with the quartet, bringing with him a wealth of solo material and boundless creative inspiration for Bruford and his distinguished colleagues (Steve Hamilton, piano, and Mark Hodgson, bass).

This Summerfold Records release offers up a new set of tunes artfully crafted by the band, with an Earthworks selection from the original lineup entitled “My Heart Declares a Holiday” and two classic Bruford gems (“Seems Like a Lifetime Ago” and “One of a Kind”) thrown in for good measure. Recorded in the elegant setting of Yoshis Jazz House on May 13 and 14, 2003, the sound quality and musicianship are both at their peak here.

Tim Garland’s sultry “Bajo Del Sol” features a deep, provocative introduction on bass clarinet, and Garland later transitions effortlessly between flute and tenor and soprano saxes. It is evident why Garland was asked to join the illustrious ensemble, as he brings back the progressive compositional element that was the hallmark of the first lineup featuring Django Bates and Iain Ballamy.

Bruford has always had a knack for selecting unique song titles, “White Knuckle Wedding” notwithstanding. Garland’s staccato flute, Bruford’s emphasis on log drum, and Hodgson’s driving bass move the song to a feverish pitch. One can almost envision this fictitious wedding over the course of the nearly eight-minute romp.

The acoustic arrangements of “Seems Like a Lifetime Ago” and “One of a Kind” are just as fulfilling as their original, guitar-oriented versions, while “Speaking With Wooden Tongues” evokes the more playful side of the ensemble with its determined percussiveness and Garland’s flowing winds. Absent from the CD is the popular finale “Bridge of Inhibition,” understandable as it has topped off 2 live albums (Stamping Ground and Footloose and Fancy Free). The master drummer clearly pays homage to his past with the revival of his solo and early Earthworks pieces but steps out of the known with this set of new compositions.

Bruford continues to stretch boundaries with the Balkan-influenced “Modern Folk” and in the tenacious soloing of “With Friends Like These.” Lots of surprises for longtime Earthworks and Bruford fans, and a leap forward in progressive acoustic jazz for audiophiles and new listeners alike.
Bill Bruford’s Earthworks are presently celebrating their twentieth anniversary, and if their last album is anything to go on, long may they continue.
Earthworks (Edition Two) were originally formed after Bill Bruford’s two year collaboration with Patrick Moraz, (Who first rose to fame as replacement for Keith Emerson in a band called ‘Refugee’ after ‘Nice’ broke up) and an aborted attempt to get that old cart horse of a band ‘Yes’ back on the road which was not one of Bill Bruford’s better moves.
Earthworks (Edition One) 1986, were a hugely successful jazz orientated band with Bill Bruford experimenting using electronic drums to supplement the jazz sound. Four highly original and musically exciting albums were released featuring various musicians including multi-instrumentalist Django Bates and saxophonist Iain Bellamy.
Then once again the call went out for Bill Bruford to re-join his old cohort Robert Fripp in ‘King Crimson’ in King Crimson’s double trio which lasted for three years from 1994 -1997, sharing drum responsibilities with Pat Mastelotto. A highly successful touring unit that released several live CD’s and a cracking live DVD called ‘Eyes Wide Open’ not actually released until 2003.
You have to remember at this stage of his career Bill Bruford had been playing drums professionally for thirty years. He had already built up the reputation as the drummer’s drummer, and it was often said that at any concert that Bill Bruford was playing in, the first five rows were taken up by drummers trying to work out his technique. Bill Bruford’s jazz style had always been evident as his childhood heroes were such drummers as Art Blakey. In 1969 Buddy Rich watched the young Bill Bruford through his entire set from the side of the stage, and afterwards walking off simply said “He is a great drummer…. good hands”. From Buddy Rich the ultimate compliment. He had also been a founder member of ‘Yes’, ‘UK’ with John Wetton, Allan Holdsworth, and Eddie Jobson, been a member of ‘King Crimson’ three times, The Bruford / Moraz Band, ‘Bruford’, ‘The Roy Harper Band’, and been a member of ‘Genesis’ at the height of their success, as well as countless solo albums, collaborations, and session work. So his credentials were not exactly in question.
But then it was back to Earthworks (Edition Two).
The second edition went back to basics revisiting the broadly acoustic sax-piano-bass-drums line up. The first stable line up included Patrick Clahar, the fast rising tenorist best known for his work with ‘Incognito’, Mark Hodgson on bass, and Steve Hamilton on piano. Although the line-up of Bill Bruford’s Earthworks are relatively stable in jazz terms inevitably in jazz quartets people move on, and others move in. For the recording of this album the excellent Tim Garland who made his name with Chick Corea had replaced Patrick Clahar. More recently Steve Hamilton has been replaced on the ivories by Gwilym Simcock, who last year won the prestigious B.B.C. radio’s rising young musician of the year award. This year Laurence Cottie took over the bass position in the quartet.
‘Random Acts of Happiness’ released in 2004 is a wonderful live album, although you do not notice this until the audience burst into applause at the end of the first song ‘My Heart Declares A Holiday’ a number that allows all the musicians to stretch out musically preparing themselves for what is to come. This album is also the first recording to show off the talents of Tim Garland within the band, and the results are astonishing, quite simply a joy to the ear. Do not let the jazz tag put you off either if you are a newcomer to this form of music and think it is only listened to by men with pipes, scarf’s, beards, and deer stalker hats. Jazz / Fusion would be a good category to put this under as this reviewer has no idea what that exactly means! If it means music played with a basis of jazz and then taken out of it’s box and allowed to enjoy itself then this is what we have.
Describing the music is not easy, joyous at times, imaginative, thoughtful, intense, and certainly unpredictable, but certainly never boring. Tim Garland seems to have taken over the lion’s share of the new compositions, and his penchant for not curtailing a song too quickly works well here. ‘White Knuckle Wedding’ with it’s long and winding melody also features Tim Garland on flute, which adds another string to the Earthworks bow. (Great title for a song by the way). While Earthworks are still essentially an acoustic jazz quartet they do not let themselves be shackled to this format Tim Garland still dabbles with electronics using a pitch-shifter to add an oriental flavour to the end of ‘White Knuckle Wedding (Just had to say that title one more time). He also does the same thing with his saxophone on ‘Speaking With Wooden Tongues’. ‘Tarmontana’ and ‘Bajo Del Sol’ with their Latin-leanings demonstrate some of the influence that Chick Corea had on Tim Garland whilst he was with the great man. Throughout the recording Bill Bruford lives up to his reputation if not surpassing it. In the hands of Bill Bruford all the songs become more than the whole. Bruford’s mathematical precision on the tighter pieces like ‘Modern Folk’ compare favourably with the loose feel he is able to impart to his approach to songs like ‘Bajo Del Sol’, shows an artist who, while already at the top of his particular tree continues to look for new inspiration and further develop his sound and approach.
Whilst some of the songs are brand new the band is not afraid to look back at work from previous line ups of Bill Bruford’s earlier bands, and re-invent songs like ‘Seems Like A Lifetime Ago (part one)’ and ‘One Of A Kind (parts one and two)’ Which come from Bill Bruford’s early Seventies work and bring a fair helping of progressive rock to the proceedings. Whilst proving the old saying a good tune is always a good tune. Songs that seemed unimaginable twenty years ago without Allan Holdsworth’s guitar woven into them seem quite exhilarating in their new home.
By Kim Fletcher.
Tim Garland- (Flute, Clarinete Bass,Saprano and Tenor Sax)
Steve Hamilton- (Piano)
Mark Hodgson- (Bass Guitar)
Bill Bruford- (Drums, Percusión)
01. My Heart Declares A Holiday 5:28
02. White Knuckle Wedding 7:46
03. Turn And Return 2:52
04. Tramontana 8:07
05. Bajo Del Sol 8:46
06. Seems Like A Lifetime Ago (Part 1) 3:56
07. Modern Folk 6:29
08. With Friends Like These 2:53
09. Speaking With Wooden Tongues 7:57
10. One Of A Kind (Part 1) 2:10
11. One Of A Kind (Part 2) 4:18

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