Applause. Pianist Patrick Moraz and drummer Bill Bruford certainly received an abundance of it Saturday night at the University of Maryland Tawes Theatre. No more than halfway through the performance, the two had acknowledged numerous standing ovations and several more were to come.
Still, one couldn't help but think that the crowd's enthusiasm was inspired as much by Moraz and Brufords' previous rock alliances than by anything the two performed, for their duets were strangely mechanical and unmoving.
Moraz, who has worked with everyone from the Moody Blues to Chick Corea, consistently displayed flashy techniques, a fondness for the music of Debussy, Ravel, Keith Jarrett and McCoy Tyner, and an inability to transform these influences into anything more convincing than a stylistic pastiche. Best known for playing synthesizers, Moraz sometimes approached the acoustic piano in a similarly orchestral style, and his rather manipulative sense of dynamics never failed to draw cheers from the crowd as he moved from passages of airy impressionism to thundering chords and back again.
As for Bruford, he has always demostrated commendable restaint, even when anchoring such rock bands as Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. He is not, however, a particularly impressive jazz drummer. His solo jazz efforts, for example, never approached the melodic resourcefulness routinely exhibited by, say, Max Roach or Mel Lewis. Rather, Bruford was at his best when anticipating and accenting the sudden if hardly original flights undertaken by Moraz.