jeffberlin

Bill Bruford ‘One of a Kind’

Bruford’s ‘One of a Kind’ is in the #1 slot on my list of favorite fusion albums (well, this week anyway). It isn’t a pure fusion record which is one of its appeals—it’s the perfect blend of progressive rock and jazz/rock fusion, without falling into the bad habits of either. This formidable quartet was led by ex-Yes, ex-King Crimson drummer/composer Bill Bruford, along with guitarist supreme Allan Holdsworth, bassist Jeff Berlin and composer/keyboardist Dave Stewart. This is one WILD record with edge-of-your-seat solos and intricate basslines galore. Killer drumming as one would expect is front and center, leading me to the other thing I love about this record which is how it sounds. Bruford’s rototoms and snare drum have a power and finesse that you can actually feel, and they are mixed perfectly. Allan Holdsworth’s guitar retains its trademark sonic footprint, with a fluid, legato sound. But there’s an additional edge to it—some of his lines go down incredibly smooth, but others have serious teeth. And mad props to Dave Stewart who eschews all forms of period-appropriate prog rock fromage in his choice of keyboard sounds—those very choices are big part of what keeps this record sounding fresh, even now. So it doesn’t sound anything like Yes, or King Crimson, nor does it sound as raw and powerful as Mahavishnu, or lean as jazzy as Weather Report. If anything, echoes of Stewart’s previous gigs with National Health/Hatfield & the North, and Bruford/Holdsworth’s recent experiences with U.K. are a closer reference point. Terrific record. This is the copy I’ve had with me since high school, with the original price tag from Stamford Records still attached…Happy Fusion Friday