Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, All Heaven Broke Loose (Caroline Records)

Although he will go down in history as one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest drummers, Bruford’s new bag is jazz fusion. As the original drummer for Yes, and later a member of King Crimson, UK and, briefly, Genesis, Bruford’s long career of heavily technical and intricate instrument-dominated rock music has amply prepared him for this unorthodox fusion of jazz and rock. Surprisingly, his technical mastery of the drums does not entirely dominate the album and leave us with another drum workshop. Sure, the music is full of intricate rhythmic patterns and time changes, such as “Hotel Splendour,” which changes time signatures as quickly and easily as a fly changes directions. And Bruford makes use of electronic percussion devices and drum-triggered synthesizers, but these blend for the sake of composition and not just virtuoso showiness.

Tenor and soprano saxophonist lain Bellamy also shines through with obvious jazz virtuosity, and Django Bates proves his proficiency on keyboards, trumpet and the E-flat peck horn, a mellow brass instrument. The material ranges from straight rockin’ fusion, such as “Hotel” (with a rock shuffle beat and fast bop-like melody), to formless pop-fusion ballads, to some truly confounding pieces. “Nerve” starts with a fast rock beat with keyboards and sax doubling on disjunct and unrelated bits of melody ideas, which fade in and out with electronic space age noise and electronic drum sounds. “Splashing Out” opens with a Latin vamp with the sax playing a free jazz solo. The drums drift into free form playing with the keys keeping the Latin vamp until pushed over the edge into a completely chaotic free jazz jam. “Pigalle” is a strong cut in 5/4 time with electronic typewriter-ish rhythm drums and a computer-like fast and oddly-accented melody on sax with accordion-sounding keyboard accompaniment.