From the late Sixties through his retirement in 2009, drummer Bill Bruford played progressive rock in stadiums, jazz in small clubs, and just about everything in between. During a recent conversation with Rolling Stone — touching on his work with Yes, King Crimson, his own band Earthworks, and more — Bruford mentioned in passing that he’d like to compile a list of some of his favorite moments from his vast recorded legacy, spotlighting not just his own contributions but the music as a whole. We invited him to take on the project, and the results are what follows, with Bruford’s own annotations.
These tracks roll from the acoustic, analog, pre-computer, pre–click-track 1970s to the electronic, post-digital, computer-based 2000s: an exciting four decades to be behind a drum kit. Collectively they describe an unfolding set of ideas about what drums and drummers can or should do. The criterion for selection was either: did the performance do something I didn’t do yesterday, or: did it cover something I hadn’t really heard much of before? The probability that someone else may have done it elsewhere didn’t concern me. All timings are approximate.