What did they do next – part 15b – Bill Bruford – 440

Dr. Bill Bruford
Dr. Bill Bruford

Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier

In our second part of what Bill did next, Mark and I enjoy listening to the Earthworks album, Stamping Ground. It’s a complete change for me but Mark has quite a few Earthworks albums.

  • What do those electronic drums sound like here?
  • Is this just ‘standard’ jazz?
  • Can Kevin get into the music at all?

Listen to the episode and let us know what you think!

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Show notes and links:

Full Album on YouTube
Bill’s Official page for the band

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  • Jeffrey Crecelius
  • Preston Frazier
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Martin Kjellberg

Paul Wilson

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William Hayes
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Lobate Scarp

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Keith Hoisington

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Robert and David

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

3 replies on “What did they do next – part 15b – Bill Bruford – 440”

Regarding Earthworks, here is my signed cd. One of the radio stations where I was a DJ was a 24 hour jazz station, WBBY. We won several awards as the best 24 hour jazz station in America. I’ve had a lifelong appreciation for jazz music, since my grandmother played 40s big band jazz at her house when I was visiting in the 60s-80s. I love Earthworks & recommend all of their albums to Bill’s fans & jazz fans. I thoroughly enjoyed their concerts & spending time with Bill, whom I first met in ’74 at a King Crimson concert here in Columbus, Ohio.

Another interesting episode. As ever, I appreciate the detailed attention you pay to the music of Yes and its many off-shoots. Earthworks is, of course, something a little different. Well, a lot different, in reality. ‘Jazz’ can be a confusing and misleading label (Miles Davis hated it), because it encompasses a vast amount of very different music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries through to today. In addition to its roots in Black music and Blues, and its role in spawning rock’n’roll, jazz is much more an attitude than a genre. In. the case of Earthworks it bespeaks a music of real sophistication and invention. ‘Stamping Ground’ from 1994 is a good place to start, because it highlights both the band’s origins in the melodic and harmonic potential of Bill Bruford’s electronic drum kit for this kind of sound world, and also the move back (but also forward) to subsequent acoustic versions of the band.

Is it “good jazz”, Kevin asks? Most definitely. Django Bates (an amazing keyboard player, as well as a virtuoso on the E♭ tenor horn) and Iain Ballamy are world class players, and along with Bill and Tim Harries they conjure up a highly inventive brew. Incidentally, those apparently “random” notes you mentioned three times are nothing of the kind. Unexpected, surprising and counter-intuitive, maybe. But not random.

I suppose that illustrates that jazz of this breed is a different language altogether to rock. ‘Nerve’, which you didn’t relate to, is maybe the most obvious example of that on this album. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that there’s more rhythmic complexity buried in there than in everything Bill played on the Yes ‘Union’ tour. I absolutely loved that Yes tour for its overall impact, but quite understand why his role bored him fairly quickly. Earthworks is altogether more involved and cerebral. I explore some of those contrasts in this piece about Bill’s shift here:

Not that many followed Bill from rock to jazz (via the semi-hybrids of Crimson and his own band). But there are bridges, not least the best of fusion. One day I plan to write a guide to getting into jazz for progressive rock listeners – it’ll be an interesting experience to attempt that, if nothing else!

So thanks again for all the work you put into YMP… Looking forward to the next leg already.

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