Bill Bruford / Bruford

One of a Kind

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Bill Bruford ended his brief affair with U.K. and condensed his original outfit to a quartet, releasing a second album of sinewy, celebratory jazz/rock fusion, One of a Kind. Good-humored twists and turns abound in the music, punctuated by Bruford's steadying if slightly subversive rhythms, Allan Holdsworth's flashes of fire, Jeff Berlin's insistent bass, and Dave Stewart's remarkably colorful keyboards. At the heart of many of these songs is an uplifting melody, a trait shared with fusion artists like Weather Report and Jean-Luc Ponty, though Bruford's outfit favors a faster pace than the former and pursues more musical avenues in a single song than the latter. When he takes to tuned percussion, Bruford can even sound like Frank Zappa (both bands have a funky side to them). Standout cuts this time include "Hell's Bells," "Fainting in Coils" (which, in an indirect link to his previous employers, would have felt at home on Robert Fripp's Exposure), "Five G," and "The Sahara of Snow." The remaining tracks are a little less muscular, and the band's strength would seem to lie in fusion propelled by the complex rhythmic patterns of Bruford and Berlin (i.e., when the band leans closer to the rock side of the fusion family). Those who enjoy their fusion with a healthy dose of rock will find One of a Kind a fair match for anything from Return to Forever or Brand X. Note that many of these songs also appear in live versions on the beat-the-boots release The Bruford Tapes.

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