Greg Foat & Gigi Masin
On June 16th Strut Records released Dolphin, the first collaborative LP between Venetian maestro Gigi Masin and esteemed pianist/composer/producer Greg Foat. For EFG London Jazz Festival 2023, we are delighted to present the UK live premiere of this sublime collaboration, featuring very special guests on drums and bass.
Born from a mutual admiration, with Foat praising Gigi’s Wind LP and Masin citing Foat’s Symphonie Pacifique as influences, together these heroes in their respective fields have created something more than the sum of its parts. An exquisitely crafted, silky blend of kosmische, jazz, vintage soundtrack vibes and ambient, Dolphin takes you to a balmy sundown place of peace.
Utilizing “an electric piano, sounds from my digital library and an old iPad 2” (Masin) and “grand Piano, Vibraphone and lots of vintage synthesisers” (Foat), the former’s melancholy melodies meet the latter’s laid back, slo-mo grooves, which pour out like honey. Herbert’s huge unfurling basslines, and taught Pistorius-style fretless are paired with Boyd’s sturdy but swinging drums, whilst warm synths create pastel-colour clouds, through which emerge smokey keys, flute and piano.
Both artist’s signature styles are here, but blended with such smooth liquidity that the pairing seems like the most natural no-brainer ever. What might seem less obvious though, or at least more of a surprise, is that Gigi – someone synonymous with sun-drenched electronica – has proper jazz chops:
“Through my record collection, which is full of jazz, to my friendship with Kenny Wheeler, and chats with Paul Bley, I would say I’m definitely a jazz man of sorts. I love many genres and have a desire to explore my musicality; a desire to create melodies, moods and atmospheres pours from me, spilling right over genre lines.”
With a basis in draft compositions by Masin, these were then embellished and developed by Foat’s trio, and were followed by a back-and-forth exchange of improvised ideas, all of which was produced by Greg, who sculpted the finished article. The record is predominantly a group effort, but due to Foat’s sensitive handling, certain points were left largely unadorned, sans rhythm section, letting Masin’s essence take centre stage.