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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Heavenly Bodies: Expanded Collection'
Artist - Bill Bruford's Earthworks

For those not in the know, Bill Bruford is the original drummer in Yes and was a long-term member of King Crimson before devoting his career to jazz.

Having already spent twenty years on the cutting edge of modern rock percussion, Bill Bruford formed Earthworks in 1986, as a deliberate return to his roots in jazz.

Availing himself of the brightest young talent on the burgeoning U.K. jazz scene, namely keyboardist and tenor horn player Django Bates, and saxophonist Iain Ballamy, both best known as frontrunners with the anarchic big band Loose Tubes, Bruford encouraged the use of rock technology with jazz sensibility – the hall mark of Earthwork’s stylish approach.

By letting in air and light, and adding a little wit and wisdom, they produced a particularly British antidote to the increasingly grotesque jazz fusion scene.

Heavenly Bodies: Expanded Collection is a chronological career-spanning compilation of Bill Bruford's band Earthworks with the booklet now including newly written liner notes and a second disc that also features rare tracks which cannot be found elsewhere.

CD 1:
1. 'Stromboli Kicks'
2. 'Making a Song and Dance'
3. 'Up North'
4. 'Candles Still Flicker in Romania's Dark'
5. 'Pigalle'
6. 'My Heart Declares a Holiday'
7. 'Temple of the Winds'
8. 'Nerve'
9. 'Gentle Persuasion'
10. 'It Needn't End in Tears'
11. 'Libreville'
12. 'Dancing on Frith Street'
13. 'Bridge of Inhibition'

CD 2:
1. 'No Truce with the Furies'
2. 'Dewey-Eyed, Then Dancing'
3. 'A Part, and Yet Apart'
4. 'Revel Without a Pause'
5. 'The Sound of Surprise'
6. 'White Knuckle Wedding'
7. 'Youth'
8. 'Rosa Ballerina'
9. 'Thud'
10. 'Blues for Little Joe'

In truth, the original compilation has been out of print for some time and so it is a rare gem of a treat to have this in my hands today, that's for sure.

This expanded re-release (which was released on November 15th, 2019 via Bruford's own Summerfold Records) was overseen personally by Bill Bruford and so means we get the concise, yet lovingly curated version that only he would have wanted to bring out.

What's obvious from the off is that, and as much as I myself enjoy contemporary jazz, I would personally have enjoyed this a wee bit more if it weren't for the overbearing amount of electric drums.

So much so that it is very hard, for a layman like me, to differentiate the unique sounds of Bill's drumming from the electric programmed ones.

That said, this collection from one of the best drummers in the world still manages to capture the jazz essence they were obviously going for, with the overall harmonious percussion nurturing a gloriously sweeping blanket of warmth throughout.

In closing, Heavenly Bodies: Expanded Collection is a great set of modern jazz from England (which, as a jazz country, has always been far behind from the States, in truth), in which Bruford himself has said, "... serves as the ideal ‘beginners’ guide’ for newcomers to the band."

"Progressive Jazz isn’t a million miles from Progressive Rock: both genres prioritize change from inside and out. People would come away from our gigs saying “I didn’t think I liked jazz, but if that’s jazz, I love it!”, he adds.

"Heavenly Bodies - The Expanded Collection is the perfect jumping-off point to dip your toes in the water.”

Amazon 2CD Purchase Link

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Website

Summerfold Records Website