Known Johnson

March 29, 2007

Bill Bruford’s Earthworks Video Anthologies

Filed under: Music,News — Tom @ 8:15 pm

Bill Bruford’s Earthworks is, along with John Zorn’s Masada, one of my very favorite jazz groups, especially in its acoustic incarnation. At its heart is the amazing drumming of Bill Bruford, the escapee from the Yes camp in the early 70s who fled to King Crimson where he found refuge that would allow him to flex his creative muscles. Visual representation of this group has been unfortunately minimal until now, when Bruford releases a set of DVDs comprising footage from six concerts from 1991 to 2005.

Reporting on this got difficult, however, as I had to sit through the two long YouTube videos of live footage embedded on this site to report this for you, Dear Readers. Not a bad chore, mind you, as the videos were obviously a subject I enjoy – Bruford’s great Earthworks bands in their two incarnations (that is, acoustic and electric).

The two new DVDs former Yes and King Crimson drummer Bruford is soon to release will contain a bunch of live footage, not “videos” as the titles may suggest. Why they couldn’t just say that in some text on the site, I know not – instead, the text is written in an annoying fashion as a scroll at the bottom of the video, so you have to pay close attention to that, instead of just watching the great Earthworks bands do their things, to figure out exactly what these DVDs are.

I figured they had to be something along the lines of live releases, since I couldn’t imagine that Earthworks songs got the typical MTV-type video treatment, but, again, simple text on the site would have sufficed. Unfortunately, these are going to be imports for us Americans, but as I’ve come to learn with this band, it’s been worth it.

Here are some details culled from various places: each DVD is region 0 and NTSC formatted, $29.50 each or about $49.20 purchased together, the first 500 copies of each will be signed by Bill Bruford himself. Volume 1 focuses on the acoustic quartet years from 2000 to now, showcasing concerts from NYC 2001, Buenos Aires 2002, and Paderborn Germany 2005, the last of which features the quartet’s new pianist Gwilym Simcock. Volume 2 spends the majority of its time on the electric band with concert footage from Tokyo 1991 and Stuttgart 1992, plus some acoustic band footage from Bulgaria 1999. The artwork was created by the renowned Dave McKean, whose inventive and unusual works have graced several previous Earthworks album covers. Obviously not a cheap investment, but for the fan, these DVDs are must-haves. The band’s previous DVD, Footloose In NYC, is a great glimpse of a working jazz band, but is sadly out of print and is only available at Bill Bruford’s site. These new DVDs give us fans even more, thankfully.

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