Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Bill Bruford's Earthworks Video Anthology Volume 2 - 1990s|
Actor: Bill Bruford
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
This 85 minute DVD is the 2nd in a 2-volume anthology of previously unreleased concert footage of Bill Brufords Earthworks, one of the longest lived and most original jazz quartets around today. It chronicles the bands pr... more »
Solid, but not exceptional
Music maven | Amherst, MA | 10/29/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Let me be clear: I've been a Bill Bruford fan since I first heard him play with Yes in 1969, and I still marvel at his technique and his rhythmic sensibility. He makes even the most pedestrian bass and snare pattern sound like it was newly invented and brings any band to life. But this whole Simmons drum period was a wrong turn. Certainly he used them in a more interesting way than most people, but they have no impact, no dynamics, no resonance. They just sound like mush. All the more so in this particular case because the sound mix on this DVD is just barely acceptable. The snare drum--Bruford's signature instrument--is almost inaudible, and what you do hear sounds like a child's toy. All of the acoustic drums are buried in the mix, while the predominant mid-bass of the Simmons is far too strong. The other instruments fare a little better, but the whole thing could be a lot cleaner and more natural sounding. The video quality is acceptable, but not great.
I have to say this is my least favorite incarnation of Earthworks. The individual players are all outstanding musicians, and I've enjoyed many of their solo recordings, but somehow they just don't quite gel here. There seems to be litttle interplay among the members of the band, and the nature of the music--being so tied to Bruford's highly structured Simmons ostinatos--takes few chances. In short, the band doesn't swing (in the broad sense). The solos are all well-played, but they never really soar, there's no sense of the spiritual urgency that is the essence of jazz, no second-line joy.
The later versions of the band are, in my opinion, much more successful. Bruford's song writing has become much more interesting, and the band works as a band. Above all, Bruford plays real drums. Despite the shortcomings of this DVD, it's still worth owning. Bruford at his least interesting is still more interesting than most other drummers at their best. And the whole thing is far from being unwatchable or unlistenable. It's just not all that it could be."
Very low quality dvd
Stephen B. Sumemrlin | Austin, Texas United States | 10/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen this and volume 1 in a record store here in Austin I decided to buy this dvd after reading reviews for it. I am a big Bill Bruford fan especialy the fact that I'm a drummer myself. I have been a huge fan of Yes and King Crimson forever and this dvd is completely the opposite. It's straight ahead modern jazz and I love modern jazz. I had decided to preview some Earthworks before buyting this dvd and had obtained a live album called Random Acts Of Happiness which I thought was quite good. So when I went out to get this dvd I couldn't wait to see it. Unfortunutly what we have here is a very low quality video. It's songs taken from 3 concerts. The first 4 from Germany 91, second 4 Japan 91 and third 3 from Bulgaria 99. In the first concert what you see the picture quality is a little rough and you're seeing a quartet play and not all of the intruments are audible. There are times when Django and Ian are playing their horns and you can't even hear the drums. The horns drown everything out. Tim Harris is the bass player and plays alot of upright bass and you can't really hear that either. You can hear the electric bass fine but the upright is pretty much non audible unless he's doing a solo. The quality doesen't get any better in the Japan show either. It's just more of the same. The final 3 songs that are from the Bulgaria show in 99 are the absolute worst. The picture is extreemly grainy like it was a high generation you were watching. This dvd is nearly unwatchable. It really looks like a bootleg video but it's an official release. This is pretty unprofessional to put out. I think us fans deserve a high crispy quality audio and video wise but unfortunutly we don't get that here. I don't recomnebd getting this dvd unless you are an ultimate collector and have to have it all. Maybe you'll be luck to find it some place to rent. The only reason this review isn't lower is because the playing on here is great. The musicians are nice and tight and the songs are excellent. But this isn't a dvd I would watch alot. It's just going to sit in my collection and collect dust. I like the artwork on the dvd cover but that's like the coolest thing about the package. I won't even bother to get volume 1."
Django Bates and Iain Ballamy!
Christopher Siebold | Chicago, IL USA | 12/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a rare document of truly inspired players. I'm a huge fan of the first incarnation of Earthworks! If you are too, you'll love this. Bill's playing is controlled and exceptional throughout. Tim Harries is an extremely under-rated bassist. However, the real business, for me, lies with Django and Iain. I first heard them on Earthworks' "Dig" and since then their compositions and performances have improved my musicianship and, well, my life. Their 5 recordings with Bruford are fantastic (especially "Live Stamping Ground"), but I encourage you to hunt down some of their solo works. Iain Ballamy: "All Men Amen", "Pepper St. Interludes", "Balloon Man", "More Jazz", the "Mirror Mask" soundtrack, and anything with 'Food'. Django Bates: "Summer Fruits (and Unrest)", "Autumn Fires (and Green Shoots)", "Winter's Truce (and Home's Blaze), "You Live and Learn....Apparently", "Good Evening....Here is the News", and any of the early 'Human Chain' or 'Loose Tubes' recordings if you can find them. My only regret with this DVD is that it is too short. I know further footage exists. The sound quality is as good as can be expected from an archival item. Same deal with the picture quality. Very watch-able and listen-able! Though subsequent line-ups of Earthworks have been marvelous in their own rite, I find the first incarnation of the band to be the most adventurous and least predictable. That said, I highly recommend Earthworks' "Random Acts of Happiness" with Tim Garland. In my opinion, it is the strongest recording since "A Part, and Yet Apart". Also, volume 1 of this series is a fine representation of later ensembles and Bruford's playing is wonderful throughout."