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Bill Bruford

Bill Bruford's career is like his drumming sound -- inimitable. Known for his ringing metal snare drum, crisp cymbal work, and knack for complex time signatures, a young Bruford came to prominence in the late '60s with Yes. The drummer completed his British art rock trilogy by briefly joining Genesis in the 1970s and spending a quarter-century with King Crimson through the late '90s. In between King Crimson dates, Bruford led a dazzling self-titled jazz fusion solo band from 1978 to 1980. Featuring guitarist Allan Holdsworth (replaced after two albums by "the unknown" John Clark), bassist Jeff Berlin, and keyboardist Dave Stewart, the group issued four albums: Feels Good to Me (1978), One of a Kind (1979), The Bruford Tapes (1980), and Gradually Going Tornado (1980). And even as he led his visionary jazz band Bill Bruford's Earthworks, he maintained a career as a session drummer (with artists like guitarists Al DiMeola and David Torn, bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and keyboardist Patrick Moraz).

During one of King Crimson leader Robert Fripp's several lineup-shifting hiatuses in Bruford's 1972-1997 tenure, the drummer formed his self-titled Earthworks band in 1986. On the group's 1987 Earthworks debut album, Bruford often used electric Simmons drums to contrast acoustic horn players Iain Ballamy and Django Bates and upright bassist Mick Hutton, achieving the opposite of the standard lineup where drums are the only acoustic instrument. Subsequent releases like 1989's Dig? and 1991's All Heaven Broke Loose continued this forward-thinking trend, blending acoustic and electric instrumentation and jazz ideology with classical undertones. But by 1993's live Stamping Ground, Bruford had replaced Hutton with electric/acoustic bassist Tim Harries and was using keyboard-pitched electric chordal drums, the combined result being a more muscular and fuller sound.

Bruford continued recording and touring with King Crimson through 1997, releasing the Earthworks compilation Heavenly Bodies just as he quit the venerable rock band with which he'd had his longest tenure. It would prove to be a transitional year, as Bruford recorded a jazz chamber trio solo CD called If Summer Had Its Ghosts with legendary jazz figures Ralph Towner (guitar/piano) and Eddie Gomez (acoustic bass). Between explorative electric recordings with bassist and fellow King Crimson alum Tony Levin, Bruford kept Earthworks closer to the chamber jazz mode on the 1999 CD A Part, and Yet Apart. Likewise, the lineup of Bruford, saxophonist Patrick Clahar, pianist Steve Hamilton, and bassist Mark Hodgson started the new millennium with the 2001 CD The Sound of Surprise, an outstanding blend of jazz tradition and forward-thinking transition. This lineup was also responsible for the 2002 live album Footloose and Fancy Free and Footloose in New York City, a live DVD released the following year.

Reedman Tim Garland later replaced Clahar, and the band went on to release the live album Random Acts of Happiness in 2004. Recorded at New York City's Iridium jazz club, 2006's Earthworks Underground Orchestra was not an album by the Earthworks band per se, but rather an exploration of Earthworks repertoire performed by Bruford along with Garland and a New York version of the latter's Underground Orchestra (and including appearances by trombonist Robin Eubanks on two tracks). During Earthworks' last several years, the group underwent additional personnel changes and toured in the U.K., Europe, and Asia, and also appeared in New York City. Earthworks' final show took place in the summer of 2008 at Ronnie Scott's in London, and at the start of the following year Bruford announced a formal end to the group -- as well as his own retirement from public performances. ~ Bill Meredith & Dave Lynch
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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philippepelu s o
in Jazz and Jazz Fusion, the top drummers are/were: Billy Cobham, Tony Williams, VINNIE COLAIUTA, CHAD WACKERMAN, Dave Weckl, Graham Lear, Lenny White, Daryl Brown, Alex Acuna, Chester Thompson, Harvey Mason, Steve Gadd, ...........
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I met Bill when he was at the Iridium in NYC.
He expressed disappointme n t in the difficulties in getting into the NYC Jazz festival that year. (December 8, 1998?).
Extremely soft, intelligent and interesting man aside from his music side.
Very approachable and great conversation .
He reminded me more of a professor with his articulation and engaging thoughts.
This reflects and parallels his music which I consider as true art in the form of tonality.
Also met with Tim Garland as they were workin
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I may not know who the best drummer is..but I know who I like.
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Actually ,in the opinions of many Mr Cobham owns the title of the top drummer/perc u s s i o n i s t s , p e r h a p s as far as speed repetitive&p r e c i s i o n , b u t numerous drummers DO match his overall style and basic beats
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I just LOVE bill b,such as solid,versat i l e drummer,prec i s e timing,jazzf u s i o n a l , r o c k - r e g g a e styles,backw a r d s style beat,if you will.
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chacalaplaya
Bluford, Moon, Palmer are the best drummers!
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gibsong2000
I too saw UK live in 78 at the Orpheum in Boston. One of the most memorable shows I have ever seen.
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stevegtx440
saw UK live in 78 changed my life
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Im a big fan. To anyone that has'nt...REA D HIS BOOK!
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Travels with Myself & Someone Else! Love, love, love this composition Bill! Thx 4 the memories brother.
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Well Bill, here we go again; masterful musicianship & awesome drumming as usual! In my book you are truly one of the most set apart virtuoso drummers on the world! GOD bless you brother!
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I remembered listening to King Crimson back n the 70's and now he's playing jazz, what a genius a true artists
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pmfith
Bruford - the anti-Collins . Always moving forward, always progressing. Collins? Not so much.
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Absolutely One of a kind! Classic Bruford.
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Simply a masterpiece! One of my all-time favorite albums, I salute you Bill & Allan!
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added wedge to chicken bucket, bootsy style
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I agree with cmahr2 completely! One of a Kind is a superb instrumental album with some of the best musicians around.
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Brufords One of a Kind is one of my all time favorite albums. Four all star musicians, great songs with diverse musical styles, Kicks booty all the way. Love it!
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SIM TO TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME
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rtarraza
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and your lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works!
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My favorite and the best. Saw him with KC in '74. Awe inspiring.
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Brilliant.
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Bill Bruford is God's gift. He's the best.
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nothing like KC- more like Tony Williams Lifetime
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the tune FIVE G is driven by bill and a relentless alan on guitar
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CHRIS SQUIRE SOLO LP called FISH OUT OF WATER ALSO features BILL
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tomas023
Enrique, if that was 1984, then it was Alan White, the 90125 Tour. Great drummer in his own right, Alan. It was one of the very few Yes tours I missed.... sorry I did. Love the video. Did you see Yes in 1991, with Bruford and White? Amazing stuff.
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bill bruford is one of those guys that holds the blue print for prog and fusion - an excellent musician
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14739578
He said he had a lazy left hand that's why he hit the snare drum on the rim
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kpfoto4
One Of A Kind is one of my all time favs,....Hol d s w o r t h , et al. wow.
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Saw him with Yes in madrid 1984. They really rock the football stadium.
It was Yes at its best playing just hits.
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bgreenage6
to truly appreciate his playing you had to see him live
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Unfortunatel y , Bill has retired from active playing (check his website). It is a musical tragedy. His unmatched body of work will, I hope, inspire drummers for decades (already inspiring my 9-year-old prodigy!)
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The albums he did with singer / composer Annette Peacock in the 1970s are wonderful . . .
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Bruford is the best and I'll tell you that everyday. Its not just the drums, listen to the all Earthworks albums. Great compositions . Bill, if your out there listening; we want to hear more!
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meta4ik149
Bill has been so influential on my playing (bass) over the last 30 years, and he is a super nice guy to talk with also. Having performed many Crimson and Bruford songs over the years I know how the complex rhythms and melodies stick to your soul. thanks Bill and all the boyz. Keep 'em coming.
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me and the boys call bruford bluefish with kindness seen himm with yes and solo and with the uk band listening to one of a kind tune five g
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Saw him with Yes at the Filmore East in the late 60's. He was a great rock drummer back then and very tasty in his smoother work. Quite a career.
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Bill is an idol of mine. I follow all projects he's been in and created. Yes Mitchell UK was a great band, seen them in NYC. Awesome show.
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trpt7777
this is one of the groups (along with U.K.) that had such devastating soloists all in their own right, I guess it was just too hard to find a large enough studio to keep them happy in...out of all the Bruford projects, this is to me by far the quintessenti a l fusion/prog of the late 70's
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14739578
Nancy no he found the cymbal while Recording Close to the EDGE with yes I read it in Modern Drummer mag.. Bill has been my five top Drummers I also play drums myself ( in Siber Kature you can hear the Cymbal )
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was the one of a kind tour in NYC at the Bottm Line amazing
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Stewart Copeland before Stewart Copeland
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simply choice
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And the trashy cymbals! (I heard he actually found one in a garbage can & used it on a Crimson album)
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luapyelof
Master of the rim shot!
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logbuilder45
One of my all time favorite drummers
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This man knows his chops.
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the bluefish. seen him and enjoyed his work since the early 70s. with yes uk crimson and solo shows. glad to have been there.
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nationstates u s e r
He's one of my favorite drummers of all, if not my favorite. Love all that he's done, especially w/Crimson. Although I miss his jazzy percussion on Yes' post-Bruford albums, I think he had more opportunity to utilize is in King Crimson.
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