Reviews Column 58: Jazz Prog

Just when you think you’ve got all the Miles Davis box sets you’ll ever need, along comes Miles Davis At Newport 1955 - 1975 (Sony). The fourth in this Bootleg Series opens with Duke Ellington remarking, as Miles and company take the festival stage, that: “These gentlemen live in the realm that Buck Rogers is trying to reach.”

Another sonic pioneer, David Torn’s angular guitar playing has graced artists as diverse as Bowie, Bruford, Sylvian, and Madonna. His ability to make looping such a fluid medium makes most others in the field look like rudimentary painting by numbers. Only Sky (ECM), embarks upon a travelogue of sorts, trekking into arid digital gulches, inscribing mysterious figures on the balmy winds of Eastern scales; riding ambient ice flow, and ultimately ascending vistas of breathtaking depth. Moody and powerful, Torn’s visionary musicality often beggars belief.

A kind of latent psychedelia haunts parts of Beyond Horizons (Boogie Post), the debut from Swedish/Icelandic outfit Thymeshift. Between Interstellar Overdrive-style freak-outs and genteel post-rock introspection, the twin guitar/sax-led line-up incorporates takes off with an attractively punchy fusion vibe.

Indonesia’s Simak Dialog formed in the90s,andtheirtwo-CDset LiveAtThe Orion (MoonJune) documents a 2013 USA appearance. The complex, extended compositions wouldn’t sound out of place on a Canterbury album, though with a bracing freshness added by their Sudanese percussionists. The athletic, lightning-fast reactions between Fender Rhodes piano and electric guitar produce stirring Shakti-like exchanges.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.