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Book Reviews

Bill Bruford: The Autobiography (Signature and Deluxe Editions)

By Published: December 16, 2011
The book may not have new written material from Bruford, but it does have new introductions by drummers Mark Guiliana (Avishai Cohen
Avishai Cohen
Avishai Cohen
b.1971
bass
, Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
b.1966
saxophone
) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Transatlantic), but it's the layout and insertion of significantly more imagery that makes Foruli's edition a distinct and separate edition from the original Jawbone paperback. The Jawbone issue had a small, 11-page photo section at the start of the book; here, over 100 photos are interspersed throughout, at the end of each chapter, providing more immediate context.



But the real carrot of The Autobiography: Signature and Deluxe Editionsis a two-disc set of 10" vinyl LPs called From Conception to Birth, which includes eight demo recordings of music performed on Bruford's Summerfold recordings, including If Summer Had Its Ghosts (1997), Earthworks (1987), All Heaven Broke Loose (1991), A Part, and Yet Apart (1999), and Sound of Surprise (2001), as well as "Original Sin," from Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (DGMLive, 1999) and "Lingo," which he contributed to Burning for Buddy: A Tribute to the Music of Buddy Rich (Atlantic, 1994), the first of two albums produced by Rush's Neil Peart's in tribute to the late, great and infamous jazz drummer. Each demo, recorded at home with gradually improving levels of technology, is followed by a clip from the resultant studio track, rendering the most important insight into Bruford's writing process crystal clear: how surprisingly complete his conceptions were—including, in the drummer's own words, the "cheesy 12-string guitar that I had the nerve to play Ralph Towner
Ralph Towner
Ralph Towner
b.1940
guitar
before the sessions for If Summer Had Its Ghosts" and his "Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth
b.1948
guitar
'soundalike'" guitar playing on "Lingo"—by the time he brought the music to his various band mates.

Even more compelling is the final track on From Conception to Birth, the funkified 6/8 "Banyan," a previously unreleased (and full) track where Bruford layers drums, bass, keys, marimba and more on a song whose polyrhythmic complexities are nothing more than another day at the office for the mathematically precise and stunningly logical Bruford.

At £250, The Autobiography: Signature Edition isn't cheap, and at more than double that (£550), the Deluxe Edition is even dearer. But for the Bruford completist who has to have everything, and with the best possible quality, Foruli's limited edition runs of Bill Bruford: The Autobiography have plenty to offer the pathological collector and, with the addition of From Conception to Birth, then some.

Read a chapter from The Biography, Chapter 10: Is it different, being in jazz?, provided exclusively by Bill Bruford to All About Jazz.


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