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The Winterfold Collection 1978 - 1986 by Bill Bruford

Drummer-percussionist Bill Bruford’s powerful percussive rhythms drove some of the best progressive rock bands during that genre’s heydays in the 1970s. He was the authoritative force behind Yes, King Crimson, Genesis and UK, and his work during that time stands out as a testament to solid musicianship punctuated by the ability to handle complex polyrhythms with ease. Since those days he is best known for Bill Bruford’s Earthworks. Created in 1986, this ensemble has moved Bruford back to his jazz roots with a rock sensibility.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Bruford’s musical life is the ease with which he is able to move back and forth between rock and jazz. To document his life in each of those two musical genres Bruford founded two different record labels with the intent that each would index his work in the different arenas. Winterfold Records catalogs Bruford’s rock excursions and Summerfold Records catalogs the jazz side. As of the writing of this review, May 2009, Bruford has retired from public performance.

The Winterfold Collection 1978 - 1986, a single disc, collects music from the Feels Good To Me, One Of A Kind, Gradually Going Tornado, Music For Piano And Drums, Flags, and The Bruford Tapes records. What is so remarkable about all of this music, especially considering it’s music in the rock idiom and some of it over 30 years old, is how well it stands the test of time. One can’t help but be impressed listening to Allan Holdsworth’s flamingly hot guitar work from the Feels and One recordings. Trumpeter-flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler’s solo on Seems Like A Lifetime Ago Pt. 1 is typical Wheeler, free floating but locked inexorably to the moment. That this composition by Bruford, a true progressive rock gem, is so adaptable to include living legend and jazz icon Wheeler gives a small glimpse into just how multi-faceted Bruford has always been in his eclectic compositional abilities.

Lest one forget that this collection is all about Bruford, take your ears no further than Seems Like A Lifetime Ago Pt. 2. Bruford powers the rock quintet, including bassist Jeff Berlin and keyboardist Dave Stewart, along with Holdsworth, through some mixed meter moments so effortlessly you’d never know the time was changing unless you take great care to figure it out.

Some of the best Bruford powered rock comes in the form of music taken from the Music For Piano And Drums recording. While only two cuts from that underground classic are included, thankfully one of them is "Symmetry." The combination of the open formatted piano master Patrick Moraz in duo with Bruford is sublime perfection of how two minds can meet and form one four-handed, four-legged monster. Here the mastery of each individual is seen in their best possible light. Moraz is strong and incredibly articulate in the manner with which he attacks and beats the piano into submission, that Bruford not only keeps up but pushes Moraz into ever successfully wilder territory is a track not to be missed for any reason.

It’s like this on every cut presented. Bruford’s rock abilities are little known to the jazz world, just as his jazz abilities are little known to the rock world; thankfully this disc can point people in the right direction as it provides an overview of, perhaps, the greatest rock drummer of the late 20th century.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bill Bruford
  • CD Title: The Winterfold Collection 1978 - 1986
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Winterfold Records
  • Tracks: Back To The Beginning, Seems Like A Lifetime Ago Pt. 1, Seems Like A Lifetime Ago Pt. 2, Hell’s Bells, Travels With Myself And Someone Else, Age Of Information, The Sliding Floor, Symmetry, Blue Brains, Flags, Everything You’ve Heard Is True, Sample And Hold, and Adios a la Pasada.
  • Musicians: Various Artists including Bill Bruford (drums), Annette Peacock (voice), Kenny Wheeler (flugelhorn), Allan Holdsworth (guitar), The Unknown John Clark (guitar), Dave Stewart (keyboards), Patrick Moraz (keyboards), Jeff Berlin (bass and vocals)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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