Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

986

Bruford: Rock Goes to College

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Bruford
Rock Goes to College
Winterfold Records
2006

Charting the career of drummer Bill Bruford, one has to sometimes wonder exactly what was he thinking? On the cusp of major commercial success on the heels of Close to the Edge (Atlantic, 1972), Bruford chose to leave Yes to join King Crimson—a band with no small cachet, but at the same time never possessing the commercial appeal of Yes in terms of record sales. But Bruford—a rock drummer and an art rock drummer at that, but one who had deep roots in jazz from the very beginning—wanted to pursue improvisational opportunities. As his career has born out ever since, the majority of his decisions have been made in pursuit of the opportunity to work with others who might complement his desire to grow—not only as a player but as a writer and bandleader. Rock Goes to College is an all-too-brief but totally riveting performance by his first band as a leader—a band that demonstrated in no uncertain terms that Bruford was far more than "just" a drummer.

When Crimson founder/guitarist Robert Fripp "permanently" dissolved the band in 1974, in what would turn out to be but the first of many such dissolutions, Bruford found himself out of a steady job for the first time in six years. In a move that would be completely in keeping with his approach to growth, he began working with groups like National Health, which featured keyboardist Dave Stewart. Stewart, who had previously worked with Canterbury bands Egg and the influential Hatfield and the North, has never received the recognition he deserves, despite some pop hits in the 1980s with his wife, singer Barbara Gaskin. But in 1975 the hook-up with Stewart was the beginning of a relationship that, along with Bruford's growing expertise on tuned percussion, would lead to the formation of the drummer's first band, simply called Bruford.

Bruford's first release, Feels Good to Me (EG, 1977, reissued Winterfold, 2005) came as a shock, even to those who'd been following the drummer's career closely. Bruford's core group featured Stewart, along already-becoming-iconic guitarist Allan Holdsworth and bassist Jeff Berlin, another too-often overlooked player. It was a muscular band, as capable of navigating Bruford's mind-bending rhythmic twists and turns as they were a surprisingly sophisticated harmonic conception that came from the collaborative writing efforts of Bruford and Stewart. Bruford's debut also featured the sultry-voiced Annette Peacock, mixed so far up front that, despite her relatively brief appearance, her contribution became an inescapable fundamental of the release.

The group would go on to record one more record (without Peacock), One of a Kind (EG, 1979, reissued Winterfold, 2005) before Holdsworth left, to be replaced by the somewhat clone-like and aptly-nicknamed The 'Unknown' John Clarke. That group would tour extensively for a year, and release two more albums—the Live The Bruford Tapes (EG, 1979, reissued Winterfold, 2005) and Gradually Going Tornado (EG, 1980, reissued Winterfold, 2005)—before disbanding as Bruford would again join Robert Fripp in a new 1980s incarnation of King Crimson.

Rock Goes to College rescues a March 7, 1979 performance for the BBC television show "Rock Goes to College" from the archives, and represents one of only two performances to feature the original band with Holdsworth. The DVD release is an historic significant event for fans of this band or one or more of the musicians involved. It also features a guest appearance by Annette Peacock for two songs—but more about that later.

For its time the recording quality is more than acceptable. Berlin's lithe bass lines thunder, Stewart's wall of sound is big as life, Holdsworth's blinding solos are clear as day and Bruford's sound as snappy as always. While there was considerable structure behind songs like the knotty-themed "Beelzebub," there was also plenty of room for Stewart and Holdsworth to become more explorative. Bucking tradition, Bruford eschews exhibitionist solos altogether and, with the exception of the intro to "5G" where Berlin's slapping is a clear antecedent for players like Level 42's Mark King, there aren't many bass solos to speak of. But as form-based as Bruford and Stewart's music is, there's also plenty of interaction, with Berlin a strong melodic voice at times, at others an overall strong contrapuntal player who, like Bruford, went beyond even the more liberal constraints of art rock.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Book Reviews
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
Book Excerpts
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Book Reviews
Podcast
Interviews
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Read more articles
Sheer Reckless Abandon

Sheer Reckless Abandon

Summerfold Records
2019

buy
Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977 - 1980

Seems Like a Lifetime...

Gonzo Multimedia
2017

buy
Skin and Wire

Skin and Wire

Summerfold Records
2009

buy
In Tokyo

In Tokyo

Winterfold Records
2009

buy
Rock Goes to College

Rock Goes to College

Winterfold Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Film Reviews
Buddy Bolden: Out of History's Shadows
By Victor L. Schermer
May 3, 2019
Film Reviews
Green Book: A Serious Comedy and Jazz Allegory
By Victor L. Schermer
December 28, 2018
Film Reviews
Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (2CD/Blu Ray)
By John Kelman
December 22, 2018
Film Reviews
Green Book Directed By Peter Farrelly
By Mike Perciaccante
December 3, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge Uncut
By Doug Collette
November 17, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stone: Stories From The Edge - 50 Years of Defining Culture
By Doug Collette
October 7, 2018
Film Reviews
The US Festival 1982: The US Generation
By Doug Collette
September 2, 2018