HID­DEN TREA­SURE

The best jazz prog you’ve never heard.

Prog - - Limelight -

The 1970s was a golden age for Bri­tish jazz rock, with trail­blaz­ing groups such as soft Ma­chine and nu­cleus lead­ing the way. groups like Brand X and Bru­ford en­joyed high pro­files, but here are six of the best bands that have been over­looked or un­der­rated.

Back Door

(Back Door, 1972)

Pro­pelled by Colin hodgkin­son’s fe­ro­cious bass and tony hicks’ pow­er­house drum­ming, ron Aspery’s rasp­ing sax skips across a volatile con­coc­tion of bluesy be­bop rock with light­ning-fast licks. their de­but still sounds as­ton­ish­ing. they sup­ported elP in 1973/’74.

Iso­tope

(Il­lu­sion, 1974)

one of the few Bri­tish guitarists ca­pa­ble of match­ing John Mclaugh­lin’s speed and pas­sion, gary Boyle’s joy­ous play­ing is all over a set of surg­ing tunes stoked by ex-soft Ma­chine man hugh hop­per’s trade­mark fuzz bass. An as­ton­ish­ing and for­mi­da­ble fu­sion out­fit.

Zze­bra

(Panic, 1975)

Formed by mem­bers of iF and os­i­bisa, the Jeff Beck-ad­mired band fuse ri­otous Afro-cen­tric brass riffs with sup­ple Fender rhodes-heavy tunes. oc­ca­sional soul­ful vo­cals, short gui­tar jabs and catchy rock riffs un­der­pinned by fu­ture gil­lan bassist John McCoy add up to a dra­matic and ex­cit­ing sound­world.

John Stevens’ Away

(Some­where In Be­tween, 1976)

A pi­o­neer of the uk’s mid-60s free jazz scene, drum­mer John stevens’ rock-ori­en­tated band boasted both elec­tric and acous­tic bass. steve hillage was a fan and had them as the sup­port act for his l tour.

Turn­ing Point

(Crea­tures Of The Night, 1977)

Flow­ing with clean, airy melodies writ­ten by bassist Jeff Clyne or key­boardist Brian Miller, Pepi lemer’s word­less vo­cals and david tid­ball’s soar­ing so­prano sax in­habit an early re­turn to For­ever at­mos­phere.

Bar­bara Thomp­son

(Para­pher­na­lia, 1978)

thomp­son’s lyri­cal sax and flute do all the melodic heavy lift­ing in a band fea­tur­ing ex-softs bassist roy Bab­bing­ton. Con­trast­ing vis­ceral so­los through­out her in­tri­cate com­po­si­tions, thomp­son flies closer to jazz than rock but still lands plenty of killer punches. SS

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