The last thing you’d probably expect from a something touted as an “experimental prog release” is an intro featuring an easy jazz piano melody, but that’s exactly how experimentalists Asymmetric Universe kick off their 2023 EP ‘The Sun Would Disappear As I Imagined All The Stars’. Fact is, this release isn’t so much an “experimental prog” release, as a weird concoction of jazz fusion and metal riffs that often centre around some very busy melodies. It’s jazz fusion at its most aggressive; a world where the funkier elements of The Brecker Brothers meet the flowing grooves of Weather Report, only to be roughed up by the heavy mechanics of Cynic and Animals As Leaders.
Best known as the organist with jazz collective Snarky Puppy, Bobby Sparks II released a particularly grand solo debut with ‘Schizophrenia: The Yang Project’ in 2018. A lengthy two disc affair, the album took in elements of jazz, funk, pop, soul and rap to create a listen that was varied, but eventually uncovered a selection of tracks that – depending on where you dropped the needle – could appeal to heavy jazz fusionists, lovers of Herbie Hancock’s dance oriented 90s releases, those on a nostalgia trip with an old Arrested Development album, or even a few Prince fans.
Olympic Bingo’s ‘Aloof’ album is an underground gem. For lovers of retro sounds with a jazz and electronica vibe, it could turn out to be one of those rare finds. There’s plenty within its stand out track ‘Things To Do Today’, for example, that has the ability to cast the listener back a couple of decades…and sometimes farther still.
A timely follow up to their 2020 full length ‘Axiom’, ‘Sys’ presents three new performances by Brooklyn experimentalists Kilter. Going deeper into jazz than ever before, the material’s extremely moody saxophone sounds and distorted bass grooves will thrill extant fans. As for attracting a wider audience, as before, the strange and alternative elements of Kilter’s sound will upset the jazz purists, but listeners brave enough to enjoy ‘Disco Volante’ by Mr, Bungle, The Book of Knots and the more wilful aspects of early 70s King Crimson will certainly find plenty to latch onto here.
The debut album from Potter’s Daughter presented some great jazz sounds. Between a heavy piano and a confident upright bass, the record’s best tunes recalled bits of Dave Grusin and other GRP label heavyweights, as well as hinting at a retro sound fully explored by Stanton Moore on his ‘Conversations’ album from 2014. Although ostensibly a jazz/fusion record, the presence of fuzzy electric guitars stepping forth for the odd solo or three and a huge focus on floaty, harmonic vocals lent the arrangements something more amenable to the more adventurous prog fan. The album led to the band being invited to play at various festivals throughout 2020, but the world had other plans.