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Bill Bruford's Earthworks

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Bill Bruford's Earthworks Biography

Bill Bruford’s Earthworks was for 22 years one of the longest-running and most successful of the UK-based jazz groups. Having already spent twenty years on the cutting edge of modern rock percussion with YesKing CrimsonGenesis, and UK, Bill formed Earthworks in 1986 as a deliberate return to his roots in jazz. With original members keyboardist and tenor-horn-player Django Bates, and saxophonist Iain Ballamy, both best known as frontrunners with the anarchic '80s big band Loose Tubes, Bruford encouraged the use of rock technology with jazz sensibility - the hallmark of Earthworks’  stylish approach.  By letting in air and light, and adding a little wit and wisdom, they produced a particularly British antidote to the increasingly grotesque jazz fusion scene.  The first LP, Earthworks, was followed by Dig? (1989), All Heaven Broke Loose (1991) and Stamping Ground - Live (1993).

'This a heady concoction indeed, and one which joyously breaks  down all sorts of musical barriers in its path.'   (The Times)

'It mixes up styles, moods and meters as effortlessly as it ignores musical boundaries.' (Wall St. Journal)

'Earthworks makes jazz out of just about anything handy on its third release.'  (Jazziz)

'…fine groovemanship and advancing techniques on tuned electronic percussion.' (4-stars, Downbeat)

A second edition of the band re-convened in 1997 and continued to use the best British talent available. Bill effectively jettisoned the electronic percussion of the first band to revisit a fresh acoustic sax-piano-bass-drums line-up.  The group featured pianist Steve Hamilton and saxophonist Patrick Clahar, the fast-rising young London tenor-player best known for his work with Incognito.  Together with Mark Hodgson (bass), it was this quartet that released Earthworks’ sixth CD A Part and Yet Apart, in 1999,  produced its follow-up, The Sound of Surprise,  in March 2001, and  a live double CD entitled  Footloose and Fancy Free was released Spring 2002 (Downbeat: 5 Stars). Unusually this was accompanied, in a simultaneous release, by a DVD filmed in concert in New York, called Footloose in NYC.

The final Earthworks featuring multi-instrumentalist and composer Tim Garland (sax, ex-Chick Corea), and pianist Gwilym Simcock (BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist) continued to tour regularly until Bruford’s retirement from public performance in 2009. The band’s 9th CD, Random Acts of Happiness, was released on Summerfold in Spring 2004. The 2006 20th anniversary celebrations saw the release of  Earthworks Underground Orchestra, a big-band version of Earthworks’ most popular pieces with an all-star American band, and two video anthologies summing up the band’s contribution to date appeared in 2007.


Summerfold Records :  Earthworks Discography


1987    Earthworks                                           BBSF 009CD

1989    Dig?                                                     BBSF 010CD

1991    All Heaven Broke Loose                      BBSF 011CD

1993    Stamping Ground, Live                       BBSF 012CD

1999    A Part and Yet Apart                           BBSF 003CD

2001    The Sound of Surprise                        BBSF 004CD

2002    Footloose and Fancy Free                   BBSF 005CD

2004    Random Acts of Happiness                 SFVP 001CD

2006    Earthworks Underground Orchestra   BBSF 013CD

2007    VideoAnthology Vol.1-the 2000s       BBSF 016DVD

2007    VideoAnthology Vol.1-the 1990s       BBSF 017DVD


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