Wednesday, 13 January 2021

The Greg Foat Group ‎– The Dancers At The Edge Of Time (2015)

Style: Space-Age, Modal, Psychedelic
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Jazzman

01.   The Dancers At The End Of Time
02.   The Door Into Summer
03.   The Hunt
04.   Hygeia
05.   The Dancers At The End Of Time (Reprise)
06.   The Eye of Horus
07.   Riff For Raff
08.   Love Theme
09.   Rocken End
10.   The Eye Of Horus (Alternate Take)

Viola – Andy Hicks
Violin – Bob Brace
Cabasa – Charlie Harris
Cabasa, Guitar – Jamie Thorpe
Cello – Simon Keates
Double Bass, Electric Bass – Phil Achille
Electric Bass, Glockenspiel – Liam Danby
Flute – Simon Spanner
Grand Piano, Church Organ – Greg Foat
Guitar – Dave Champion
Guitar, Glockenspiel, Organ – Warren 'Woz' Hampshire
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Rob Mach
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Trevor Walker
Written By, Arranged By, Producer – G. Foat

This is the fourth album by pianist/organist/composer Greg Foat and has been released both on CD and LP (this review concerns the latter format) and is unquestionably his most accomplished and satisfying to date.

The stately strains of a church organ (a real one, since this album was recorded in a church), herald the opening to the title track on Side A, giving way to Rob Mach's tenor before the movement of a door is heard introducing the elegant brass-led theme to "The Door Into Summer," a supremely memorably ballad adorned by wisps of ethereal flute and a warm flugelhorn solo from Trevor Walker. The door shuts and horns duly announce "The Hunt" which benefits from a gloriously engaging riff followed by Rob Mach's baritone sax positively bursting through the sound barrier before the main theme is repeated.

The lengthier "Hygeia" opens with guitar and proceeds at a leisurely pace until the groove starts to pick-up with baritone sax and flute solos wafting over bass, drums and piano. The short but beguilingly elegant "The Dancers at the End of Time (Reprise)," with brushed snare and delicate piano solo, is tantalisingly close in mood to Dudley Moore's "Cornfield" from the soundtrack to the original version of Bedazzled.

Side B opens with "The Eye of Horus" a medium paced number with an insistent bass line and modal piano chords underpinning an ensemble theme, the whole progressing into full-blown piano and brass solos before a return to the theme. Bass and glockenspiel open "Riff for Raff" before the funky jazz rock main riff boldly breaks out, culminating in appropriately feisty wah-wah trumpet, tenor sax and piano solos. The gentle ballad "Love Theme" is an outing for Simon Spanner on flute and Greg Foat on piano accompanied by subtle bass and drums, all underpinned by a central two chord motif.

At just under three minutes in length "Rocken End" is deceptively short but manages to include a trippy Soft Machine-like fuzz-wah bass line combined with early Pink Floyd-esque ethereal organ. It ends with the aquatic ambience of a beach, culminating in a run-off groove infinitely repeating the sound of the waves -not so much white noise as wet noise.

The Dancers at the End of Time was inspired by the title of a collection of stories by polymath author Michael Moorcock and is an appropriate one for the spacey, psychedelic jazz that Foat produces—the magnificent cover art endorses this viewpoint too. There is no one doing what Foat does at the moment, it is simply unique and visionary and this brilliant album replete with its highly memorable tunes will stand the test of time and demand frequent spins of the turntable. Simply outstanding.
Roger Farbey / All About Jazz