VIDEO: Bill Bruford’s Earthworks – Never The Same Way Once (Sofia, Bulgaria, 30th October 1999)
I don’t know what to call a slice of music these days. A title? A track? A tune? A piece? It still seems weird to me calling a piece without any singing a ‘song’, but that’s increasingly the fashion so I’ll go with it.
The title of this song comes from drummer Shelley Manne who, asked for his definition of a jazz musician, allegedly declared it to be someone “who never played it the same way once”. Sounds about right to me. The music originally appeared on an album of mine with Ralph Towner (gtrs, pno) and Eddie Gomez (bs) called ‘If Summer Had its Ghosts’.
The original recording is pristine, cautious chamber-jazz, and represents the first time we (or anybody) had played the song together. That was one way of playing it. In contrast, this reckless, impetuous, incautious interpretation is played by people who know the thing inside out, led by the fierce tenor saxophone playing of the Coltrane-influenced Patrick Clahar. Nothing ‘chamber’ about this; Patrick tears it up. Around his last couple of choruses, the temperature in the room, on stage and in the music was through the roof. I seldom get to tackle anything at 280-300 beats per minute (that’s about as fast as I go, and should be as fast as anyone’s allowed to go!), so that was fun.
The piano tuner wasn’t having a good day, and there’s a powerful amount of compression on the recording, but nothing’s perfect. The huge Bulgarian crowd in the National Palace of Culture were so warm too, and obviously happy to enjoy this ‘song-without-any-singing’. After the gig we adjourned to a club with a warning sign on the door – a pictogram of a pistol in a red circle with a line through it and the words ‘No Guns’. I left mine with the hat-check girl.
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