Bruford – Live At Toad’s Place – New Haven Connecticut – July 18, 1979 – WPLR-FM broadcast –
Bruford in concert tonight – high-energy, short-lived and boasting a stellar lineup. John Clarke on guitar – Dave Stewart on keyboards – Jeff Berlin on bass and Bill Bruford pounding skins. All recorded in concert at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut on July 18, 1979 and broadcast live by WPLR-FM.
Bruford was together only three years (1977-1980) – in that time they released three albums, all highly regarded by hardcore fans and the press. Sold not very much and prompted their label E.G. Records to drop the band in 1980, causing its subsequent demise.
Bill Bruford formed the jazz-fusion band for his debut solo album Feels Good to Me, with keyboardist Dave Stewart (formerly Hatfield and the North), American virtuoso bassist Jeff Berlin and guitarist Allan Holdsworth (formerly Soft Machine and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong). This first album also featured Annette Peacock on occasional vocals and British jazz stalwart Kenny Wheeler on flugelhorn. Bruford and Holdsworth then joined the progressive rock group U.K. After Bruford and Holdsworth left U.K., a second album One of a Kind enlisted the same line-up as the first album (minus Peacock and Wheeler) and was all instrumental. On the live album The Bruford Tapes (a show originally broadcast for radio station WLIR), guitarist John Clark (formerly of Quasar) replaced Holdsworth. Clark remained and bassist Berlin sang vocals for the first time on the third album, Gradually Going Tornado, which also featured “Joe Frazier”, Berlin’s first composition for the group.
Trouble was, the mainstream music biz wasn’t all that kind to the Prog/Jazz/Fusion genre as a whole. Coupled with the fact that Punk was making a very loud and raucous entrance, the establishment was having a hard time trying to cash in on something taking off on its own accord without much need for a major label’s support and it was clearly clueless as to what to do with something that didn’t rely on catchy hooks and formulas and was the opposite of Punk’s three chord wonders. And so the late 70s spelled a period of grasping at straws for the mainstream music business. And it didn’t help matters any that the audience was taking Punk (and later Post-Punk and New Wave) to its heart and not paying attention to too much else.
In the 1980s, Bruford returned to King Crimson for three years (1981–1984), collaborated with several artists (including Patrick Moraz and David Torn), and formed his own electric jazz band Earthworks in 1986. He then played with his former Yes bandmates in Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, which eventually led to a very brief second stint in Yes. Bruford played in King Crimson for his third and final tenure from 1994–1997, after which he continued with a new acoustic configuration of Earthworks.
For a reminder of that largely overlooked period in Contemporary music, here is Bruford in concert from 1979 as it was broadcast over WPLR in New Haven.
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