Since 1998 Jazzman’s Gerald Short has been scouring the world for rare and forgotten records to reissue and re-release, often enticing the hearts, minds and record boxes of modern-day DJs in the process and offering a brand new leash of life for hard to find music from a bygone age. Occasionally, he also looks forward and brings to light present day acts that fit the Jazzman Records ethos perfectly. A pianist, composer and arranger by trade, Greg Foat is one of those artists. Following his limited edition 10″ dÃ©but which sold out pretty much everywhere on first issue, Greg releases his first full album called “Dark Is The Sun” under the guise of The Greg Foat Group. Comprising of ten tracks (which includes a four-part suite of the title track), Greg plays piano, Hammond organ, synthesizer and harpsichord to produce a UK jazz album with a difference. Often atmospheric, with choral touches and an experimental, spaceyÂ ambianceÂ offering an almost cinematic and cosmic feel to proceedings, this is soul jazz for the 21st century.
The album kicks off with the first of two versions of “Time Piece”, a languid intro gives way to some deft harpsichord playing and a moody groove underpinned by the rigid drumming of Tony Coote. As the track progresses a choir enters the fray bringing with it an uplifting, spiritual resonance, a theme that is explored throughout the album’s length. Greg switches to the Hammond for the following track, the first part of the title song “Dark Is The Sun” which almost blends into its predecessor as it eases in with long drawn out chords before unleashing wave after wave of funky interplay over its tight rhythmic foundation. After an otherworldly interlude, comes one of the true standouts of the album. Titled “Hello Old Friend”, it was specifically written for Trevor Walker who plays flugelhorn here. With a slow and melodic pace, Trevor takes centre stage whilst the piano tinkers away in the background. A perfect composition, evoking images of a lazy summer’s evening and one I really can imagine listening to over and over again. The harpsichord returns for a brief reprise before “Dark Is the Sun Part 4 (Harpsichord Waltz)” rears its head in the form of a jaunty number set to (as the name would suggest) a 6/8 time signature.
The latter half of the album uncovers two tracks aimed squarely at the dance floor “Yeah You Are” and the exceptionally funky “Uncle Bessie”. If both didn’t feature on this LP, they could easily have been dug from a long-lost library record. Rob Mach shines on tenor sax, providing deep and raspy tones over the bubbling synth lines which really lend a climatic air to the music. “Bright Is the Sun” , the penultimate track and yet another highlight, as Greg happy to take a back seat here, lets both Alan Hardiman (Trumpet) and Gavin Broom (Trombone) step up and take some shine. The only track to be recorded in Dollis Hill in London (The rest of the album was recorded in Sweden), to my ears it shares similarities to another of the area’s previous residents, 4hero (particularly in the drum arrangement and chord structure) and with the added use of the aforementioned choir, shades of Charles Stepney.
“Dark Is the Sun” is a great vehicle for Greg Foat’s talents and behind all the production and group interplay it’s obvious that he is a very accomplished keys player. In a time where very little modern music can be considered timeless, it’s great that Gerald and Jazzman continue to pull out and support those little gems that more than likely will survive the test of time. Greg’s dÃ©but is definitely one of them.
1. Time Piece 1 (Harpsichord Bugalu)
2. Dark Is The Sun Part 1 (Main Theme)
3. Dark Is The Sun Part 2 (Interlude)
4. Hello Old Friend
5. Dark Is The Sun Part 3 (Reprise)
6. Dark Is The Sun Part 4 (Harpsichord Waltz)
7. Yeah You Are
8. Uncle Bessie
9. Bright Is The Sun
10. Time Piece 2 (Epilogue)
Wah Wah 45s Dom Servini did an interview with Mr Foat back in May on his Colourful Radio show, where he discusses the album, some of his influences and other general chitter chatter. You can stream it below via the Wah Wah 45s Mixcloud page.
We also very happy to report that you can also catch The Greg Foat Group playing live at our first “Jazz Meet Presents” event at The Shoreditch on Sunday 12th June 2011. We’ll drop more info nearer the time. In the meantime, let’s leave you with a video of our favourite track from the album…