Prog’s Cool Cousin: The Canterbury Scene

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the historic British town of Canterbury became the breeding ground for an idiosyncratic music scene that could have been called a movement if its avatars weren’t quite so unassuming in their demeanor. The Canterbury scene grew up around Soft Machine, which started out blending post-psychedelic weirdness with jazz influences before shifting into straight-up jazz-rock fusion in the ‘70s. Early Soft Machine and the bands that became part of their family tree (Caravan, Hatfield & The North, Egg, etc.) shared a quirky, very British sense of humor and a knack for blending jazzy jams into an offbeat but breezy brand of prog rock that boasted a much lighter touch than that of King Crimson, ELP, et al.