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  • Zoe Lim

Piano in Avant-Garde Jazz

a band performing on stage

Avant-garde jazz also known as experimental jazz, is a style of music and improvisation that combines avant-garde art music and composition with jazz. Piano, in particular, usually plays an important role in this music genre, as it is in most jazz compositions. In this article, we want to dive into the world of modern experimental jazz bands and explore the sweet euphony of this music genre.

1. Mammal Hands

Mammal Hands are a British band from Norwich. The band's style combines ambient, jazz, electronic music and world music. They have carved out a refreshingly original sound from a disparate array of influences. Drawing on their love of electronic, contemporary classical, world, folk and jazz music, Mammal Hands take in influences including Pharoah Sanders, Gétachèw Mekurya, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Sirishkumar Manji.

2. Gogo Penguins

GoGo Penguin are an English band from Manchester, England. The band's music features break-beats, minimalist piano melodies, powerful bass-lines, drums inspired from electronica and anthemic riffs. Their music incorporates elements of electronica, trip-hop, jazz, rock and classical music.

Critics have described GoGo Penguin's music with references to Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Massive Attack, Brian Eno, modern classical composers such as Shostakovich and Debussy and contemporary minimal music composers like Philip Glass.

3. Portico Quartet

Portico Quartet are an instrumental band from London, UK. They are known for their use of the Hang, a modern percussion instrument. Their debut album, Knee-Deep in the North Sea, was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize and was Time Out’s Jazz. Their main influences are jazz, ambient and electronic music. The band’s first two albums are largely acoustic recordings, reflecting their origins as a live busking band. These are based around the hang, double bass and drums, with the saxophone playing the melody line.


Zoe is an avid fan of all kinds of music. Her primary instrument is the guitar but she is always passionately learning how to play other instruments such as the drums and keyboard. She is currently playing the bass guitar in a band and has been routinely involved in music since she was a child.

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