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Bill Bruford

The Winterfold Collection 1978-1986

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new compilation of music from Bill Bruford released on his own label, Winterfold. The songs come from six albums, four released under the header of “Bruford” and two Moraz / Bruford discs. There is a fairly wide variety of sounds here and it gives a good cross-section of that period of Bruford’s career. I like this set a lot, and the only complaint I have is a minor one – it feels like there’s too much of a gap between the songs. Well, there is perhaps one more complaint. For completists like myself who must own everything by an artist, this is redundant, as everything on it should be in your collection already. Still, as an introductory purchase you can’t go wrong. I should mention that I had already reviewed two of these tracks when I covered the first Moraz / Bruford CD – so those reviews have been modified for use here for the sake of consistency.

Track by Track Review
Back to the Beginning
Coming from Bruford’s Feels Good To Me album, this starts gradually with mellow jazz tones. It launches out into more powerful arrangement from there and female vocals come across. For my money the vocals are too far up in the mix, obscuring the killer musical explorations too much. This features Bruford with those vocals provided by Annette Peacock, Dave Stewart on keys, Allan Holdsworth on guitar and Jeff Berlin on bass.  There’s an almost punky feeling to Peacock’s vocal delivery. Berlin’s bass takes it into a rather dissonant musical journey sans vocals later. As it carries on this gets pretty frantic and rather Crimson-like and the guitar really drives it. They move out into another vocal segment later and then Holdsworth’s guitar holds sway for another instrumental movement. A rubbery rhythm section takes it later and sees it out.
Seems Like A Lifetime Ago Pt.1
This track and the one that follows it are from the same album as the opener and feature the same lineup. With a mellower motif the vocals don’t seem so overpowering this time. The music is quite involved and yet subdued at the same time. This is a much more sedate jazz journey, but there is quite a bit going on if you really listen intently.
Seems Like A Lifetime Ago Pt.2
This comes out of the last track and a UK like droning starts it off. After a spoken vocal the band kick it out into a funky jam that’s quite cool. There’s a tasty rock edge to this one. We get a short soaring progressive rock movement and then they move it out to more spacey jazz explorations. They build it back up and then Holdsworth shows what he’s made of again. This gets to be quite fiery and powerful. It resolves out into more melodic territory after a while. And then we get a mellower jazz jam that’s still quite fusion oriented. This is short lived and serves as the outro.
Hell’s Bells
Coming from the One of A Kind disc, this has the same lineup as the first two tracks with the exception that Peacock is not here. This starts with percussion and then is turned into a killer prog rock jam. It’s a riff driven piece with a nice keyboard sound. There is some exceptional work from all the players here as they move through a series of variants. 
Travels with Myself, and Someone Else
The origins and lineup are the same as on the last cut. This is a melodic jazz meets prog rock journey. It’s much mellower than the previous one and quite pretty. There is some awesome bass work on this. Of course, each member of the group gets a chance to shine.
Age of Information
Coming from Gradually Going Tornado, this has the same lineup as the last two, except that Allan Holdsworth is going and The Unknown Jack Clark is handling guitar and Berlin (also still on bass) handles vocals. This has a more rock texture than the tracks we’ve heard to this point. It’s probably closer to the sounds of UK than the first few numbers. I like this a lot. 
The Sliding Floor
Rising up with a real prog rock majesty, they shift this out quickly into a rubbery fusion groove. When it moves to the song proper it’s more purely rock oriented. It’s from the same disc as its predecessor and features the same lineup. After the first lyrics end they take it out into a frantic and hard edged fusion jam. From there it’s back to the vocal segment again. 
Symmetry
Coming from The Moraz Bruford album, Music For Piano and Drums, this is a dosage of seriously chaotic free form jamming that is very much in the vicinity of RIO.
Blue Brains
From the same album as the previous number, Bruford's percussion starts this off very dramatically. This has an open, dissonant King Crimson like style to it in many ways. It's a bit odd, but also very tasty. I like this one a lot. That says a lot because dissonance often throws me off. This has a killer groove to later segments and is just plain effective.
Flags
This track and the one that follows it feature the same two musicians, but come from the Flags album. The personnel may not have changed, but the sound sure has. This is much more melodic and pretty. It starts in mellow ways on just piano, but then fires out into more rocking territory as Moraz switches to synthesizers. There are a lot of wonderful textures, both melodic and rhythmic here and it might be my favorite cut on the whole set. 
Everything You’ve Heard is True
There’s a funkier feeling to this and it’s another highlight. This features a lot of the same musical features as the last piece (and the same lineup), but it moves more into a fusion direction and gets a little more adventurous. It wanders into dissonance at times, but never far enough to turn me off. 
Sample and Hold
Starting with percussion, this leads out to a scorching fusion jam. This careens this way and that as the furious tempo leads it forward. The personnel on this (from The Bruford Tapes) is the same as on “Age of Information” and “The Sliding Floor,” but since this is an instrumental Berlin provides only the bass. They work through a few intriguing variants and this is really pretty powerful stuff. There are points where it is reminiscent of UK. Oh, and speaking of Berlin, check out his frantic funk bass later in the track. This is another highlight of the disc and it is another that moves out to dissonance at times. It gets pretty intense at times, that’s for sure. There’s screaming guitar soloing, killer keyboard jaunts and through it all Bruford’s working his magic. The closing bit of this live cut reminds me just a bit of something from King Crimson’s Starless and Bible Black album. 
Adios a la Pasada
The compilation is brought full circle by the inclusion of this track from the same disc (and with the same lineup) as the two songs that started it off. At around the three-minute mark they drop it way back for the spoken vocals. This is a nice touch. They take us back out from there into another killer jazz journey with more vocals coming in over it. It falls back again for more spoken lyrics and then fires out into a soaring jam.
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