Friday, May 20, 2016

Bruford - 1979 - The Bruford Tapes

The Bruford Tapes

01. Hell's Bells (4:35)
02. Sample and Hold (6:35)
03. Fainting in Coils (7:25)
04. Travels With Myself - And Someone Else (4:38)
05. Beelzebub (Bruford) - 3:52)
06. The Sahara of Snow, Pt. 1 (5:05)
07. The Sahara of Snow, Pt. 2 (3:32)
08. One of a Kind, Pt. 2 (8:45)
09. 5G (2:38)

- Bill Bruford / acoustic & electronic drums and percussion
- Jeff Berlin / bass and vocals
- John Clark / guitar
- Dave Stewart / keyboards and synths

In the investment banking world, especially if you work for an American company, when a compliance officer walks to your working station and give a material, you are supposed to immediately read, tell him that you have fully understood, and are ready to implement the "material" into the action. Putting forward your personal opinions, especially disagreement, on the material is strictly prohibited and could lead to the termination of your job. However, when Hamdi Riza Rachbani, my compliance officer, told me that he has a "special material" for me, he was indeed expecting my personal opinion on it.

The "special material" handed over to me was a CD, titled "The Bruford Tapes" (EG Records 1979 pressing). This rare CD is actually the live album of Bruford band's "Feels Good to Me" and "One of A Kind", broadcasted live from "My Father's Place", Roslyn, New York on WLIR ( FM92.7), in summer 1979. It was recorded on a two-track equipment. Thus, if you are an audiophilist, I warn you that you would hear an extremely high noise floor, which could disturb your ears, out of this recording.

The show was opened by the 4:20" jazz fusion composition, named "Hell Bells". David Stewart's synthesizer came in forcefully at 2 flats (C minor) before joining by Jeff Berlin's bass and Bill Bruford's drums. Alan Holdsworth's, recognized in the album as the "unknown" John Clark, came in last. That said, the fluidity of Holdsworth's guitar at 1:44" to 2:20" is a reminder to us that you are listening to one of the world's best guitarists. It is followed by Stewart-Berlin's duo on synthesizer and bass for 40 seconds up to 3:00". Berlin's quaver (eight) bass notes in this section is a truly ear dropping.

Initiated by 30 seconds Bruford's poly time signature drumming, the show was continued by 6:17" "Sample and Hold". The composition used various time and key signatures as well as complicated notes. The best parts of the piece, in my view, are the Holdsworth's eight-voice modulated delay technique, created a very piano-like sound from an ordinary electric guitar (you could hear it clearly at 0:50"-1:09", 1:24"-1:42", and 4:58"-5:15" sections) and Berlin's syncopated crotchet (quarter) bass notes from 2:25"-2:40".

Having made a 43 second communication to audience, the band played the 7:25" (including the communication) "Fainting in Coils". Listen carefully to the interesting Holdsworth-Berlin's guitar-bass duo at 1.48"-2.20", Holdsworth-Stewart's guitar-keyboard duo at 3:02"-3:57", and Stewart's staccato single chord combined with Holdsworth's sitar-like semiquaver (sixteenth) guitar notes at 5:12"-6:03". While each of musicians was given time to show their technical skills, their collaborations truly made the composition an interesting piece.

The next 4:38" "Travels With Myself - And Someone Else" is a mellow jazzy composition. Unfortunately, Jeff Kracke, the recording engineer, decided to end this piece unnaturally. The main attraction here is Berlin's quaver and semiquaver bass notes between 2:37"-3:31".

Opened up by energetic Stewart's legato keyboard notes, the 3:35" Beelzebub must rejuvenate the audience, who had been toned down by the previous mellow piece, at the "My Father's Place". Berlin's bass and Bruford drumming musically matched with Stewart's legato notes, while Holdsworth's guitar liners gradually induced a second ambiance to the composition, especially at 1:58"-3:08".

Having made another 22 seconds communication to the audience, the band played its experimental composition called the "Sahara of Snow" part 1 (5:00, including the 22 seconds communication) and part 2 (3:00"). The piece's title depicts a contradiction situation, doesn't it? The composition was initiated by Stewart's avant-garde keyboard sounds, combined with Holdsworth's distorted sustained guitars sounds, and Bruford's percussions. Then Stewart's solo keyboard came in at 2:54"-3:34". The second part was marked by Stewart's staccato chords for 22 seconds, followed by Holdsworth's solo guitar (with various guitar sounds) on the back of Berlin's simple crotchet bass notes.

No explanation why the band didn't play the first part of "One of A Kind" and decided to only gig the 8:00" second part of the piece. Initiated by Belin's 32 seconds bass liners, one of the best fusion jazz instrumental songs is evidence how Bruford band's members were able to collaborate. Bruford's jazzy drumming (cymbals, sometimes snare drums and tom-tams, and no bass drum) gradually changed into full drumming between 2:04"- 3.00" aided by Berlin's bass, Holdsworth's guitar, and Stewart's piano. At 4:28", the ambiance changed. I'm not sure whether the clarinet-like sound in 4:38"-5:22" was generated from Stewart's keyboard or from Holdsworth's legato phrasing guitar technique with light picking, caused a distorted guitar amplifier to produce a reedy, clarinet-like tone. However, having also heard the second harmonic behind the sound, I think there is a strong likelihood that the clarinet-like sound was generated from Hodlsworth's guitar.

The last song in the album, the "5G", is actually one of the most energetic songs written by the band. However, again, Mr. Kracke decided to end the song unnaturally and really send my angry nerve to the stratosphere level. It was opened by energetic and forceful phased bass riffs by Jeff Berlin (similar to Tetsuo Sakurai of Casiopea's bass riffs), followed by Stewart's fast tempo keyboard before Holdsworth's guitar notes breaking into at 1:32".

I wish I could be at the "My Father's Place" on July 12, 1979 and watch the show lively. It must be a great experience. Happy listening!



  2. Thanks Zen Archer, just to add that it's John Clark on guitar - a student of Holdsworth :)

  3. What a great site! I have no way to convert my vinyl on this old fav. The unknown John Clark did a pretty good job, I saw this tour at the royal Oak theater.