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Bill Bruford's Earthworks picture
Bill Bruford's Earthworks biography
After the dissolution of KING CRIMSON (80's edition), Bill BRUFORD recruited sax player Iaian Ballamy, keyboardist, horn and trumpet player Django Bates and acoustic bass player Mick Hutton to form EARTHWORKS - a perfect platform to showcase his true passion: jazz. Apart from BRUFORD, EARTHWORKS's latest incarnation featured Tim Garland on sax, flute and bass clarinet, Steve Hamilton on piano and Mark Hodgson on bass. The band is credited with six studio albums, two live cd's and one compilation disk.

BRUFORD himself considers their first album (the eponymous 1987 "Earthworks") one of the highlights of his career and perhaps rightly so. Even though it is very much a product of the jazz genre, the eclecticism of influences including world music elements, the varied structures and moods of the compositions, and the dynamic musicianship make this as progressive an album as one can get. With "The Sound of Surprise" released in 2001, however, the band seems to have ditched electronic sound sculptures in favour of a more traditional jazz kit; as a result, the music reaches an almost cool, hard-bop and old-school fusion, not unlike what post-boppers were doing before BRUFORD joined YES in 1968. This album, along with the subsequent studio release "The Sound of Surprise" in 2001, isn't exactly cutting edge or innovative but still quite likeable.

If you don't like jazz, stay away from this band. If you do, their first studio album comes highly recommended. If you want to hear BRUFORD and the boys hit on all cylinders, you can't go wrong with their 1994 "Stamping Ground - Live" album.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

Bill Bruford's Earthworks official website

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A Part & Yet ApartA Part & Yet Apart
Summerfold 2011
Audio CD$10.20
$15.50 (used)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Summerfold 2005
Audio CD$11.99
$6.49 (used)
Dig / Random Acts of HappinessDig / Random Acts of Happiness
Imports 2014
Audio CD$11.47
$17.22 (used)
A Sound Of SurpriseA Sound Of Surprise
Summerfold 2011
Audio CD$15.99
Footloose And Fancy FreeFootloose And Fancy Free
Summerfold 2011
Audio CD$15.99
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Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 43 ratings
2.66 | 26 ratings
2.88 | 18 ratings
All Heaven Broke Loose
4.03 | 25 ratings
A Part, And Yet Apart
3.98 | 36 ratings
The Sound of Surprise

BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 15 ratings
Stamping Ground - Live
4.35 | 19 ratings
Footloose and Fancy Free
3.63 | 19 ratings
Random Acts of Happiness
3.50 | 2 ratings
Earthworks Underground Orchestra


BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.73 | 10 ratings
Heavenly Bodies

BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Earthworks by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.15 | 43 ratings

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

1 stars Bridge of inhibition

After the folding of the Jazz-Rock/Fusion group Bruford in the early 80's Bill returned to King Crimson for a while before going deeper into Jazz territory with this new group called Bill Bruford's Earthworks. This is Jazz Fusion with little or no elements of Rock, and even though it can rightly be described as eclectic it is by no means Prog. Hence, anyone expecting a continuation of what Bill did with Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Berlin, and Dave Stewart in Bruford will probably be sorely disappointed by this. (And anyone expecting anything even remotely related to Yes, King Crimson, or UK will of course be even more off the mark.)

The album opens with a cheerful, up-tempo Jazz number that sets the tone for the album. This cheesy little ditty makes me cringe and is one of the worst pieces of music ever coming from an ex-Yes member's solo album! The rest of this album is mostly a bit better than this dismal beginning and there are even a few moments when it gets almost acceptable, but even the better parts are nothing too special and the worst parts are, as mentioned, rather awful.

The drums are obviously in focus and the rest of the sound is dominated by acoustic bass, brass, and some cheesy sounding keyboards. Guitars and other typical Rock instruments are avoided.

It should be clear that I'm not the target audience for this project and anyone not sharing Bill's passion for Jazz is probably well advised to stay away, far away.

 Dig? by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.66 | 26 ratings

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

3 stars DIG has been undeservedly maligned by the critics. Wherever you look, reviews rarely sound more than lukewarm, which is why I've postponed buying and listening to the album until now - almost a quarter century after it first appeared. It may not exactly be a first recommendation among Earthworks albums, but if you're already familiar with the band, it ought to interest you.

In my opinion there have been four distinct peaks in Bill Bruford's career: (1) The early years with Yes, which led to albums such as FRAGILE and CLOSE TO THE EDGE; (2) the early years with King Crimson, when John Wetton was in the band; (3) the two albums featuring Allan Holdsworth, Dave Stewart and Jeff Berlin; (4) the second incarnation of Earthworks, which resulted in A PART, AND YET APART and FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY-FREE. Of course these peaks aren't ALL that can be said about Bill's career. The first U.K. album and King Crimson's DISCIPLINE are brilliant as well, and the very first incarnation of Earthworks (whose second studio album DIG was) has its charms, if only because Django Bates is probably the most gifted and idiosyncratic keyboards player Bill ever worked with, Iain Ballamy is an utterly adorable saxophonist, and Bill's own experiments with electronic percussion are never less than interesting.

Two things struck me about DIG. First of all: the overall mood is very close to (and seems inspired by) mid- period Weather Report. Most of the music feels bright and carnavalesque, and Ballamy's sax is strongly reminiscent of Wayne Shorter's. Secondly, apart from 'Gentle Persuasion' it's hard to find strong or memorable tunes. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why people don't particularly like the album. (Please note 'Gentle Persuasion' itself is so delightfully poppy jazz snobs will be horrified - but also note its highly lyrical sax solo.) Take the closing number, 'Corroboree'. It sounds utterly weird, and if it had appeared on FEELS GOOD TO ME or ONE OF A KIND, it would have been the prelude to one of Bill's great "symphonic" climaxes, with Allan H's electric guitar blazing away. Only, in this case there's no climax, the prelude is all you get, and the piece stops suddenly, without warning. Album over. So what else have we got?

Well, there's still a lot to admire! 'Stromboli Kicks' is wonderfully mischievous jazz, with a delightful pocket trumpet solo from Django Bates. 'Pilgrim's Way' and 'Libreville' are based on joyful ostinato patterns provided by Bill's electronic percussion; both tunes feature wonderfully wayward electronic keyboard solos. 'Dancing on Frith Street' is a unique opportunity to hear B.B. play ska. "A Stone's Throw" is an unremarkable ballad, but it features a beautiful piano solo and a superb saxophone-led finale... In fact, the more you listen to this album, the more riches you discover. Believe me, this really is an album where you need to DIG.

 Stamping Ground - Live by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Live, 1994
3.86 | 15 ratings

Stamping Ground - Live
Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars It's fairly well established that in the drumming heirarchy there is Bill Bruford and Neil Peart at the top, with everyone else below. Both of these drummers are experts at electronic drumming, and both have shown an ear for jazz (both also appeared on Peart's Buddy Rich tributes). While I happen to love listening to both of these drummers, in my opinion, Bill Bruford wins for all the different bands he's played with, and all of the styles he has mastered.

With Earthworks, Bruford plays a more traditional jazz, with his fusion roots taking a back seat. But however much he wants this to be known as traditional, his fusion chops, the way he adds so many polyrhythms into even the most mundane groove, and his adepts work on the electronic drums, keep the music firmly footed in the fusion realm.

This is a great set from start to finish. His band was perfectly in synch with what Bruford was trying to accomplish, playing sophisticated jazz around some pretty incredible drumming and synth triggers. Iain Ballamy and Django Bates, both with Earthworks since the band's inception, provide perfect horns and keyboard accompaniment to all of the tunes. Bass player Tim Harries, while certainly competent on acoustic, is superb on the songs where he gets to play electric.

My favorite tracks are the more abstract ones, where Bruford writes melodies that evoke Five Percent For Nothing from "Fragile", although much more developed. Nerve, and especially Emotional Shirt fall into this category. But the best track is Bridge Of Inhibition, which features Bruford playing the melody on synth patches while also mastering the beat. The song segues into some wild soloing before ending back with Bruford triggering the synths again.

This may be the Earthworks album to get.

 Dig? by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.66 | 26 ratings

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kazuhiro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "Three Of A Perfect Pair" that King Crimson had announced in 1984 was able achievement.. to face it really enough for the band the part of the purpose and the necessity of the activity. Directionality and the idea of the music that King Crimson in the 80's has might have progressed with order by the slogan hang exactly out by Robert Fripp. Order and the methodology that had been given to the band for the part of the performance existed and, of course, were reflected in the work.

Order and the idea of King Crimson in the 80's were reflected in the performance of the member of the band. It might have remarkably shown the result of having begun to think that the answer to order and the directionality of King Crimson was derived for Bill Bruford. However, the technology and the theory might have raised the quality of his name with the establishment of an exactly great leap and performance when considering it along with the situation for Bill Bruford compared with the activity after the fact and 1984 activities in bands other than King Crimson in the 70's.

The idea and the root of Bill Bruford were demonstrated enough in the order of King Crimson that had been done in the 80's. He is a boast as the drum player of King Crimson. And, the degree of freedom of Bill Bruford that knew the element of good Improvisation of King Crimson and carried it out and the side of flexibility were expressed enough by the performances such as "Neurotica" and "Indiscpline". Of course, the nucleus of those elements will have been a part of Jazz/Fusion of the base of Bill bruford.

As for the activity of Bill Bruford after 1984, the activity of music mainly composed of Jazz/Fusion was remarkable by contraries. The act and the necessity of nature might be had both of course for Bill Bruford and it be advanced. Well versed in electronic percussion. And, it flows to his improving the ability of the composition since the 70's. And, it recurs to Jazz. The listener can discover these elements for Bill bruford to be reflected enough in the activity in the latter half of the 80's.

Participation of album of David Torn name announced from ECM in 1986 in "Cloud About Mercury". And, it participates in "The Spice Of Life" about the album that Kazumi Watanabe of a Japanese guitar player announced in 1987. The performance of Jazz/Fusion that united Bass player's Jeff Berlin and rhythm section for Bill Bruford by the old friend in this "The Spice Of Life" and caught the age was developed as Trio. "The Spice Of Life 2" is announced like the organization of this Trio in 1988. Bill Bruford might gradually contribute to musicians and be admitted also in the field of the composition.

The root of Bill Bruford and the element of the base developed greatly originally at this time. This "Earthworks" might have existed as a start where he concretely showed those elements as an expression of music. It is a well-known fact that this band is one part of the life of music after Earthworks announces the debut album in 1987 for Bill Bruford. And, he was answering the interview at this time. 「I am not performing by thinking about the drum of Rock and the drum etc. of Jazz. My existence is exactly put on music and it expresses it. 」 His of this remark might be exactly proportional to the music character of Earthworks. And, they might have offered the meaning of this album as an element for Earthworks to demonstrate the expansion of the width of the power of expression of this album enough. And, the performance that Bill Bruford had done in "Bruford" of own band was voluntarily made remarks, "At that time, the idea was packed too much" recollecting it. The ability leaps as a composition of Bill Bruford in the band. And, the part where the subject was put on the harmony of the band while making the root of his music a base might appear remarkably. Iain Ballamy etc. of Django Bates and Sax player who was active by "Loose Tubes" might contribute and the performance by the musician with whom the talent overflows also contribute enough to the band.

"Stromboli Kicks" twines round the construction of the melody with the electronic percussion the melody that Sax is complex. The originality of Earthworks might go out of the tune. Solo of Tenor Horn twines round a steady rhythm and the dash feeling is kept. The tune expresses the idea of the tune well though it shifts to a quiet part on the way by the theme visited again.

The melody that there is a humour in twining of a gentle wind instrument exists together in "Gentle Persuasion". The element of a little Latin is added to the tune and the tune shows various respects.

"Downtown" is Jazz/Fusion with the melody of beautiful Sax. The melody of the keyboard that shines in Solo of Sax twines.

"Pilgrims' Way" is a tune with the element of the ballade. Might the sound of the keyboard feature. And, the impression of the tune is decided to the sound of Sax in close relation to everywhere.

In "Dancing On Frith Street", the rhythm that puts the theme and fast and slow with unique is a feature. Sax in close relation to a steady rhythm also expresses the tune well. The rhythm has a lot of developments. It corresponds as Sax and the keyboard to answer it have flexibility.

The feature in "A Stone's Throw" is to flow. shift from the part of Free to a beautiful melodyThe part of good Jazz has been introduced while multiusing a complex rhythm.

As for "Libreville", the melody to answer Afro's rhythm has acted on the tune well. It reacts with the sound of the keyboard where coming in succession of the wind instrument shines, too. The tune shifts to complete Jazz/Fusion attended with a suddenly intense rhythm. Solo of a heavy keyboard twines round the development of Chord with the tension.

"Corroboree" progresses with a heavy, quiet flow. The part of abstract has an experimental element. The tune progresses from the part of the intro attended with a mysterious melody. The tune contains originality.

Earthworks at this time had boldly introduced the sound with diversity Jazz/Fusion was exactly made a base. And, the band establishes one directionality by a further perfection of member's replacement and the music character.

 Earthworks by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.15 | 43 ratings

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Bill Bruford was well known as prog-rock drummer with prime league bands in his past. That time has gone many years ago. First we heard Bruford solo albums incl. quality jazz- rock/fusion music. Then he played some boring albums with Patrick Moraz.

There we have debut album of his new project - Bill Bruford's Earthworks. First of all, this music is far away from prog-rock, or any rock. It is far away even from his solo works in fusion field. Here we have mainly quite conservative jazz with some eclectic elements of rock.

First of all, album's music is very unfocused. From very beginning it sounds as second league jazz band with deep ancient acoustic bass, quite simplistic musical structures, soft sound and pale melodies.

Song after song, the impression become a bit better, at least there are some melodies and some trumpet solos, filling the space, in some songs. Common sound is well rounded and amorphic, with rare chaotic heavier ( rock?) fragments.Synth-keyboards doesn't input life signs in a music, some cheap "soundscapes" only improve eclectic sense.

Listening to that album, I few times had a feelind as being in restaurant and listening a jazz- band there. Even some flirt with Eastern folk ( "Bridge Of Inhibition") doesn't help: all in all it sounds as semi-professional jazz band, which was formed to realise Bruford ambitions to play jazz .

In fact, could be interesting for heavy Bruford fans as item for their collection. For all others - easy jazzy listening for dinner time.

P.S. The CD I own has 9 tracks ( not 8 as stated above): album's seven track is It Needn't End In Tears (5:14)

 The Sound of Surprise by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.98 | 36 ratings

The Sound of Surprise
Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars If you're there searching for some prog experiments from ex-Yes and KC drummer Bill Bruford - you will be very disapponted!

Even if you're fan of his solo works, the music here is different : shortly, you will find classic acoustic jazz. With no even small experiments or inventions.

But very high quality jazz - perfect techniques, perfect sound, nice melodies.

So there just two recommendations are possible in that case:

- if you are proghead searching for new prog from great prog-drummer, just forget about it! Zone of your interest is limited somewhere in Bruford solo albums.

- if you like jazz, and quite conservative, with high level technique, bright melodies and nice sound, I think you wouldn't be disappointed!

 Earthworks by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.15 | 43 ratings

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars On listening to this, the first of Bill Bruford's Earthworks albums, I get the idea that the amazing Mr. Bruford might have been a bit fearful of going as far away from his progressive roots as he did on the subsequent recordings of ths group. This one is quite a bit more prog than any of the other releases. It's even produced by, and has a guest appearance by Bruford's previous keyboard player, Dave Stewart. Stewart's influence is apparent, as much of the album has some of the feel of Bruford's fusion band, most apparently the middle section of "Making A Song And Dance" and most of "My Heart Declares A Holiday"

But the highlight of the album is "Bridge Of Inhibition", a Middle-Eastern flavored tune, that's spectacular as it is, but just amazing when you see it played live. It's just incredible how much of the melody comes from Bruford's drum synths, played at the same time he's keeping the rhythm.

If you get any Earthworks disk, this should be the one.

 Dig? by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.66 | 26 ratings

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars Dig? Not so much.

This is a competent jazz album, but not very special, and certainly not very much progressive qualities to it. Like on all of Bruford's Earthworks albums, The disk features many songs where the amazing drummer not only plays the rhythms on his drums, but he also sets up the entire mood with his tuned electronic pads. Unfortunately, in all but a few sections, the rhythms and moods he lays down are not very compelling, leaving much of the disk to sound like background music.

The good tracks here are "Dancing On Frith Street", a song that benefits from constantly changing styles, and the upbeat "Libreville".

This is for light electric jazz lovers, not prog fans.

 All Heaven Broke Loose by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.88 | 18 ratings

All Heaven Broke Loose
Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars If you purchase an Eartworks CD expecting to hear hard fusion, the way Bruford played in his earlier band, "Bruford" you are in for a big disappointment. If you kept up with Mr. Bruford's career, and new that he was interested in playing a more straight ahead style of jazz, you will be delighted.

That is not to say that there aren't moments here to please a prog fan. The songs "Pigalle" has a very intriguing bit of play in it's time signatures, seeming to constantly vary where the one beat is, with Brufoed himseld setting the tone with his complex tonal drum synth pads. And "Nerve", with it's syncopation, is reminiscent to me of the jazzier works of Soft Machine.

The remainder of the album is filled with very nicely played bebop, with some electric passages mixed in. Not a bad album, but by no means essential.

 A Part, And Yet Apart by BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS, BILL album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.03 | 25 ratings

A Part, And Yet Apart
Bill Bruford's Earthworks Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Moogtron III
Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars What a treat, what a treat! And... Bill Bruford has done it again. I mean: I grew up listening to rock music and classical music. I never liked anything with jazz, not even jazz rock, until I listened to Bill Bruford's late seventies / early eighties fusion albums. Then suddenly my ears were open to jazz rock. Since then I tried out pure jazz, but I couldn't appreciate it. Until I found this album: the first jazz record that I like as much as some of my favourite prog rock records. So Bill has done it again: opening my ears for a different style.

Okay, now it's time to look at the record for its own merits. It is a jazz record: unlike the albums of Earthworks mark 1, this Earthworks outfit plays an almost acoustic form of jazz. Almost, because there's still some synthesizer at the background from time to time. Very subtle, but effective: often it's the cream on the cake. Bruford's brushes and Mark Hodgson's acoustic bass show that the music is strongly rooted in bebop, though. Like Bruford once said about himself: he's only with one foot in rock, and then only three toes. This album proves his point, though I think here it's only two toes.

I would rate the album with four stars. Because it's innovative? No, it scores low on innovation. It sounds like trad jazz with some distant rock influences. The strength is to be found in three aspects:

1. The very strong compositions, mostly due to Bruford's talent of contributing highly melodic themes. Most themes are from Bruford himself, and on this album he was on a compositional high.

2. Once again Bruford surrounded himself with a very good band. All of the players excel on their instrument. Steve Hamilton is a piano player whose playing will appeal many prog fans, and sax player Patrick Clahar is responsible for the emotional high on the album's closing track. Mark Hodgson's acoustic bass and Bruford's drums seldomly come to the foreground, but when you listen closely to them, you find that they are as important for the band as the other instruments.

3. The main reason why I would give this album four stars instead of three is because this album might open prog listeners' ears to jazz. The album is jazz, but never has any moments of self-indulgent noodling. And because of the highly melodious content, this album might well be a good place for some prog listeners to start with jazz. You might even like the fast improvisations on Hamilton's Eyes On The Horizon, where Hodgson's bass sounds like a cafeine intoxicated bumble bee on a trampoline. Yes, this is hard bop, a style which I never thought I would appreciate. But Bruford and his troupe do know how to change your perspective.

One tiny point of critique: the album is, no doubt, like most (all?) jazz records for the biggest part born out of improvisation, but sometimes the album is almost on the edge of sounding a bit too polished. Almost. But the album never gets boring, and at its best the album sounds glorious, as on album highlights Footloose And Fancy Free and Dewey-Eyed, Then Dancing.

A jazz record for prog listeners.

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