52 Jazz Tracks for 2021. 39. ‘Seems like a lifetime ago’ – Bill Bruford, Feels Good to Me, 1978

The 39th of Jon Turney’s weekly selections has the drummer making the best possible use of an elusive vocalist.

Bill Bruford album cover

A game of two halves, labelled as Parts one and two on the original, and posted on YouTube separately (see below). The first half really stays with me, but the combination works.

Drummer Bill Bruford (he’s Dr Bruford, retired drummer nowadays) was striking out as a leader, using whoever he thought good to play with. This lot became the band Bruford, which underlined who the famous one was. Dave Stewart’s keyboards were at the core of Hatfield and the North and National Health. Add US electric bassist Jeff Berlin and Allan Holdsworth and that’s quite a band.

The first album also shone because of a one-off collaboration with the undersung vocal genius, Annette Peacock. Her delivery on Part one here – the LP’s earworm – is stunning, as always. The band, in hindsight, can sound a little airless. My musical brain works slowly, so all Holdsworth’s solos sound basically alike to me, though I do quite like them. And the eighties keyboard sounds evoke an era that has now gone.

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But reservations dissolve when Peacock humanises the whole thing. A perfect trumpet cameo from Kenny Wheeler provides a crowning grace of Part one. Then go on to Part two to sample the sound of most of the rest of the album.

More on this recording on Jon’s Bristol Jazz Log

Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series

Week 38. All Good Things, Big Air

Spotify playlist for the series

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