Bruford – Borstlap: Arabian Quest (Bruford – Borstlap: In Concert In Holland, 2004)

VIDEO: Bruford – Borstlap: Arabian Quest (Bruford – Borstlap: In Concert In Holland, 2004)
Bruford - Borstlap: Arabian Quest (Bruford - Borstlap: In Concert In Holland, 2004)

Bill Bruford: Drums
Michiel Borstlap: Keyboards

#billbruford #michielborstlap #brufordborstlap

The loose-ish drum pattern that opens this duet marinaded in the back of my head for a while after its initial airing here, eventually resurfacing a year or so later in a formalised way as the basis for Earthworks’ ‘White Knuckle Wedding’ (available on this channel). Little rhythmic compositions like this migrate, get lost, are tried out with others; reappear at half (or twice) the tempo, in a different meter or in a different configuration of instruments, until they settle into what seems to be their natural home. Often they’re sprung half-formed on an unsuspecting colleague – in this case Michiel – to see what he might do with it in concert, if anything.

The rule of thumb when improvising with King Crimson, which we did on occasion, was that any player who started something, and finding that no-one else has joined in, should be able to produce a short, fully-rounded and satisfying improvisation, complete with form and dynamics and a beginning, middle and end, no matter what instrument he held in his hands. Never happened, as far as I can remember, but such was the ground rule, and a good one, too.

Listening back to this improv, it’s all nearly too frantic; the piece could have been called ‘Headlong Rush’. It’s played with the velocity of a rock group. It needed relief: I’m glad I chose to bring in some airy cymbal work at around the 4’ mark after all those drums.

But there’s also stuff I like: the vaguely Middle-Eastern aroma of Michiel’s principal scale; the piano entry at around 3’ and the ensuing alternations between the broad powerful synth sound and the nimble piano phrasing. I like the ‘call and response’ between piano (‘call’) and drums (‘response’) at 4’53”. The long slow diminuendo (getting quieter) over the warm synth pad at the end leading to the ‘sforzando’ (Italian for ‘hit ‘em as hard as you can’) drum phrase to close, works well, as a long diminuendo to a sudden sforzando has done for hundreds of years. I like the sound of all the instruments. Looks like it was the last piece of the evening’s entertainment.

Incidentally, not everyone reading this will be familiar with musical terms and practices. I try to strike a middle course that will entertain both the seasoned hardcore Bruford-watcher and the mildly curious new-comer. All are entirely welcome: there is no intention to patronise.

I’m enjoying this. Wonder what’s up next?! See you soon.

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