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Random playing of mediocrity

Random Acts of Happiness
Random Acts of Happiness
By Bill Bruford's Earthworks

Summerfold Records: 2004

This review first appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of Turbula.

The fact that Bill Bruford – founding drummer of progressive rock band Yes and for a quarter-century the beat behind the inimitable King Crimson – has come to head up a fairly tame and unimaginative jazz combo is cause for distress for those who hunger for explorative and brave music.

The latest outing from Bruford's Earthworks band continues the trend from the combo's earlier recordings – technically skilled playing set to pedestrian compositions that do nothing to show off the chops of the players involved. This isn't bad music, mind you. It's just that we hardly expect – or are inclined to accept – average from someone of Bruford's stature and talent.

In addition to songs lacking the kind of strong theme that both sticks in the listener's head and lends itself to memorable playing, there's an overall lack of passion and fire here. The solos by reedman Tim Garland and pianist Steve Hamilton kind of noodle along; Bruford's drum solos aren't a whole lot more exciting.

Something's missing here, and whatever it is makes this album a pretty serious disappointment.