Greg Foat Group ‘Live at the Playboy Club, London’ (Jazzman) 3/5

greg-foat-groupThe latest endeavour from specialist label Jazzman is to champion the cause of London-based quintet lead by multi-keyboardist Greg Foat who have been resident three nights a week at the Playboy Club since January 2013. By and large, this works a treat and there is certainly an immediacy to the sound that will appeal beyond the confines of jazz devotes. The feel is very much 1970s soul-jazz with a hint of early 1980s post-punk in attitude. Arguably the strongest number is ‘Funky Fanfare’ which is a showcase for the leader’s own skills and Foat’s blues-inflected piano combines well with the soul-jazz horns. A cover of a Tubby Hayes composition, ‘Finky Minky’ is given the soul-jazz treatment with unison horns reminiscent of the Jazz Messengers while a minor blues is evoked on ‘Madrid’ with a gentle flugelhorn solo from Trevor Walker that recalls Art Farmer. Elsewhere, there are elements of Miles’ Bitches Brew’ era on ‘Exodus and Interlude’ with a memorable bassline intro and echoed effects on both electric piano and dubbed horns. One of the frustrating things about this recording is the excessive use of echo and the band would be well served dispensing with this effect since over an extended period it does tend to grate on the listener’s ear. Otherwise an interesting group with a far from obvious selection of numbers and a definite case of work in progress from the formation who should develop their own distinctive identity in time.

Tim Stenhouse