Drumming hero, Bill Bruford’s insatiable quest for pursuing excellence in modern jazz is exemplified by his tremendously appealing and all acoustic, Earthworks ensemble. However, with the advent of the "Winterfold" and "Summerfold" record labels, Bruford has been reissuing gems from the past, including this wonderful 1977 jazz-fusion gala. Beside his progressive-rock proclivities, namely with YES and King Crimson, the drummer released some minor-classic LPs predating the early ‘80s formation of the acoustic-electric rendition of Earthworks.
With guitar god Allan Holdsworth, electric bass wunderkind Jeff Berlin, jazz trumpet legend Kenny Wheeler and others, the music boasts a combo of jazz-rock and jazz-fusion stylizations. Here, Bruford’s crisp yet uncanny back beats are offset by a series of quirky time signatures and vocalist Annette Peacock’s off-kilter type sultriness, namely on a few wistful ballads.
Marked by peppery vibes, tender choruses and anthem-like motifs, the preponderance of these memorable cuts strike a chord, where a novel sound and style holds up remarkably well after all these years. In addition, Holdsworth is in classic form, where his sinuous legato-based lead lines and torrid riffing cast a slightly ominous edge to the overall proceedings. Other highlights include famed prog-rock keyboardist Dave Stewart’s beefy organ and melodic analog synth passages along with Wheeler’s yearning lines on selected tracks. Otherwise, Bruford is adding bonus CDs to these reissues, consisting of sound bytes and discussions about his new record labels. (Recommended..)