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July/August 1999

Bill Bruford's Earthworks
A Part, and Yet Apart
Discipline Global Mobile

Bill Bruford's Earthworks brings a different brand of nostalgia to A Part, and Yet Apart (Discipline Global Mobile DGM 9905; 48:46), tapping into retro-soul fusion and club-style, live execution. The tremendous quartet of drummer Bruford, saxophonist Patrick Clahar, pianist Steve Hamilton, and bassist Mark Hodgson deliver endlessly intriguing compositions, featuring reoccurring riffs to hang a hat on, but riffing into unexpected, yet satisfying directions. Title track "A Part, and Yet Apart," for example, builds on a sing-song bass line and musing piano with doodling soprano sax, then turns darker-shifting reflective modes like a bittersweet memory. "Curiouser and Curiouser" builds suspense with a jocular bass line, introduces carousing tenor sax, then breaks to head downhill with a sly and sneaky groove. Lead-off track "No Truce with the Furies" gets a deliberate, walking excitement from its main piano line, but spirals off into a dark exploration of tempos and colors. The overall effect is like a dark but familiar journey, spotlighting the joy of improvisation while remaining grounded in accessible hooks and styles.

Originally published in July/August 1999
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