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Bruford and Borstlap

In Two Minds

Review by Gary Hill

This collaboration between drum and percussion legend Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) and piano player Michiel Borstlap presents some intriguing jazz that seems to strive to exist without borders or preconceptions. It’s quite successful in that quest. This is music that will challenge the listener, but also entertain. This is not easy listening music or smooth jazz. This is thinking person’s music that showcases both talents and makes you question the use of piano and percussion in music and breaks the boundaries and walls of each instrument. It’s a great disc that takes a bit of warming up to, but doesn’t a lot of great music?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Kinship
The piano leads this off, building a pretty melody. It shifts towards dissonance a little before the half minute mark and then returns to melody, feeling darker. Percussion enters tentatively and builds quite deliberately. The percussion rises to a noisy sort of cacophony as the piano twists into weird territory. This becomes an experimental free form sort of piece for a time and then settles back down to more gentle melodic motifs. The drums rise again, bringing with them more chaos, but the piano climbs also keeping its head above the water this time. Then they settle into a more traditional jazz piano/drum jam. They move through a few alterations. At times it becomes more noise oriented and then it shifts back in favor of the melodic to finally end.
In Two Minds
Bruford starts this excursion and they settle into a swinging, but still rather mellow jazz motif. It’s a sparse, but quite entertaining arrangement. While this moves out into some minor weirdness here and there it represents a far more accessible choice than the opening piece.  They turn it into a killer jazz groove as they carry forward. Both men get the opportunity to show off their exceptional skills.
From The Source, We Tumble Headlong
This comes in with a cool, tuned percussion sort of sound. They take it in with a killer jazz jam from there. This has a lot fuller sound and a bit more of a “rocky” fusion element in play. This is frantically paced and, while at times it can be a bit challenging in terms of its scope, is a considerably accessible piece of music. It’s a highlight of the CD. They move through a number of differing movements and motifs in the process of creating this sonic tapestry. Once more it serves as a great showcase for two talented musicians. It turns more into a sound that fits with the earlier cuts for the second half of the number.
Flirt
While there are segments that have a less full arrangement and are a bit less energized, overall this is a great funky groove. It’s also one of my favorites on show here.

Low Tide, Camber Sands
With a brushed percussive approach, the majority of this track has a mellower, more open and sparse arrangement. It’s a great song and gains some “oomph” right toward the close. I’d put this one close to the top of my “short list” of favorites on the CD.
The Art of Conversation
This extended piece runs through a number of varying sections. At times it’s more sparse and open with a rather random feel to it. Other parts have more of melodic, full arrangement. They move off into noisy, slightly chaotic and rather dissonant soundscapes at times. This is one of the most dynamic cuts on the table here, but it doesn’t do a lot for this listener.
Conference of the Bees
The first movement of this piece centers around percussive, but still musical, rather than just rhythmic, modes. The piano brings in more melody later, but it still remains a fairly free-form expressive jazz journey. This is a cool cut, and although a bit odd, is one of my favorites here.
Sheer Reckless Abandon
Bruford gets the first word here. This frantic cut seems well named, although I think I hear the “bees” from the last number on this showcase. It’s a powerhouse jam that rocks and has some great jazz grooves. It’s another highlight of the CD in my book.

Duplicity
This is a more random sort of jam that’s all over the place. It’s cool jazz, but not really one that works as well for this reviewer.

Shadow Dance
More dramatic, the intro on this one is noisy and unsettling, but also quite powerful. They drop it way back for instrumental interplay in a more open setting. This has its share of dissonance and weirdness, but works pretty well. It turns to a more “rooted” groove later that is potent and includes some “big” drum sounds and great piano work.
The Odd One Out
This is frantic and often chaotic and frequently dissonant. It’s a very free form piece of music but still manages to land in the groove from time to time.
All Blues
The only cover of the disc, this is a number originally penned by none other than Mr. Miles Davis. It’s an entertaining piece of music that works quite well in this particular format. It serves as a good way to bring things in and end the CD on a high note. It’s got a great groove and the classic jazz sound is married to a more modern and experimental approach in a great way.
 
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