Bill Bruford’s Earthworks – Video Anthology (2007)

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Bill Bruford’s Earthworks was, 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 1970s who fled to King Crimson where he found a refuge that would allow him to flex his creative muscles. Visual representation of this group has been unfortunately minimal until this 2007 release, as Bruford presented a set of DVDs comprised of footage from six concerts between 1991 and 2005 in the great Earthworks bands’ two incarnations (that is, acoustic and electric).

The two new DVDs contain a bunch of live footage, not “videos” as the titles may suggest. 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. Unfortunately, they initially arrived as imports for us Americans, but as I learned long ago that with this band, it’s worth it.

Each DVD is region 0 and NTSC formatted, with the first 500 copies of each signed by Bruford himself. Volume 1 focuses on the acoustic quartet years from 2000-07, showcasing concerts from New York City in 2001, Buenos Aires in 2002, and Paderborn, Germany in 2005, the last of which features the quartet’s then-new pianist Gwilym Simcock. Volume 2 spends the majority of its time on the electric band, with concert footage from Tokyo in 1991 and Stuttgart in 1992, plus some acoustic band footage from Bulgaria 1999.

The artwork was created by the renowned Dave McKean, whose inventive and unusual pieces 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 has been slipped out of print before. These DVDs gave us fans far more, thankfully.

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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