JJ 03/92: Bill Bruford’s Earthworks – All Heaven Broke Loose

Thirty years ago Eddie Blackwell argued for open-mindedness in order to enjoy Bruford's highly electrified band. First published in Jazz Journal March 1992


This is an electric band, in the literal sense. Bruford himself plays electronic and chordal drums. Now, if like me, that means little or nothing, you should understand that when Bruford strikes a drum pad it triggers keyboard pitches. If all is still not clear, I commend to your delicate shell-likes the incredible sounds produced by this remarkable technique.

Despite the fact that our hero learnt his stuff in progressive rock bands like King Crimson, his heart was in jazz. Messrs Bates and Ballamy come highly commended to this album, and they offer some unusual, but brilliant interplay. Indeed, the integrative aspect of the four men is remarkable and it is frequently difficult to be clear about which of them is playing what. No matter. There is some richly rewarding music to enjoy – if you are prepared to be open-minded about the boundaries of jazz. Perhaps there are none, anyway.

I specially recommend the rhythmic Pigalle, whilst Temple Of The Winds, with its exciting atmospherics, features some thrilling bass playing. Splashing Out begins like a jazz-rock dance, but then things begin to happen! For me, the standout is the title track. All Heaven features unison passages from Ballamy and Bates in a plaintive two-part item which holds the attention throughout its nine-minute length.

Hotel Splendour; Forget-Me-Not; Candles Still Flicker In Romania’s Dark; Pigalle; Temple Of The Winds; Nerve; Splashing Out; All Heaven Broke Loose: 1. Psalm 2. Old Song (50.13)
Bill Bruford (d); Django Bates (ky/t/peck horn); lain Ballamy (saxes); Tim Harries (b/elb). Zerkall, Germany, January, February, 1991.
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