Artist: Mo Foster
Title: Bel Assis
Label: Singsong Music
Rel: March 24th 2023
Recorded between October 1987 and January 1988 with an enviable line-up of music talent, ‘Bel Assis’ is bassist supremo Mo Foster’s first solo album.
Foster is an artist whose musical journey has taken him through jazz with Gil Evans, rock with Jeff Beck and Phil Collins, and blues/jazz/folk with Affinity, Joan Armatrading and Van Morrison.
His solo debut was borne out of Mo’s desire to work at the time on something less emotionally shallow than the then current crop of contemporary pop.
“I wanted to at least fuse the flexibility and precision of the computer generated sound in vogue at the time with the warmth and emotion of real performance using real instruments by the best musicians available,” he reflects today.
Finding the musicians was not a problem and their pleasure in the project shows through their playing.
Gary Moore, Simon Phillips, Ray Russell, Frank Ricotti, Stan Sulzman and Rod Argent are amongst the cream of musicians who recorded the album, an instrumental collection of souvenirs as Foster puts it, “bringing together musicians, memories and many musical styles which I had been involved with and enjoyed on the way.”
Mo continues to perform live with his band, ‘Friends’.
“…a forgotten minor classic. Clarity of sound and pinpoint accuracy of timing are just the start. The true appeal lies in its simple grace and emotional warmth.” Observer, 14/9/03
“…an album of outstanding craftsmanship…a collection of beautifully crafted instrumentals in which Mo’s role as bassist is perfectly balanced…” Bass Guitar magazine, October 2003
“…melodic and immediately listenable … Mo Foster’s blend of smooth jazz to rock grooves would sound good on radio, preferably mobile with the hood down, late night. A rare treat.” Get Ready to ROCK! August 2003
- The Light In Your Eyes
- A Walk In The Country
- Crete Revisited
- So Far Away
- Analytical Engine
- Pump II
- Bel Assis
- And Then There Were Ten
Mo Foster’s Track Notes
1) The Light In Your Eyes
This was originally written with Jeff Beck in mind. I was so thrilled when he agreed to play on the track but just days before the recording the poor chap broke his thumb while working on one of his hot-rods. Time was running out, and there was only one other player who could make the sounds that I was after – Gary Moore – who performed with terrific emotion and originality.
2) A Walk In The Country
A memory of a sunny day – an afternoon walk during a break from recording at The Manor studios in Oxfordshire. The engulfing wheat was waist high, and it felt as if I was swimming through the field.
The track had a rainforest, steamy, canopy sort of feel. I had recently been reading about James Lovelock’s theory that the planet is a self-regulating entity. He called this ‘Gaia’ after the Greek Earth Goddess. The name fitted perfectly.
4) Crete Revisited
As its name implies this is a re-working of ‘Memories Of Crete’, a track I originally recorded on the RMS album Centennial Park. This version is more fun and allows Simon Phillips to stretch out and enjoy himself.
5) So Far Away
A distant view of unknown lands from a 747 at 35,000 feet. Ray Russell wrote the melody to my chords. Jeff Beck recorded a version at Townhouse studios, where Gary Moore later heard it and loved it. He subsequently recorded the tune on his live album, We Want Moore. RMS had performed it at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1983, but this is the first studio version.
6) Analytical Engine
On permanent display at the Science Museum in London is a working model – an edifice of polished brass – of William Babbage’s brilliant creation, the Difference Engine. It was the first true computer. Before he died he began work on a much more advanced machine, the Analytical Engine.
7) Pump II
On Jeff Beck’s album There And Back, Simon Phillips and I had both played on the track, ‘The Pump’. With this tune in mind I was doodling at the piano one day when I suddenly played this main sequence straight off – all 19 bars. Easy. It then took a further six months of torment to complete the piece.
Jaco Pastorius is probably the most influential bass guitar player that ever lived. I wrote this piece upon hearing of his untimely and totally unnecessary death. It was so sad. When I played the solo I just tried to concentrate on the pain of this troubled genius.
9) Bel Assis
Imagine a day in a small village near Hampstead in north west London: fruit and veg, gossip, a pint in the Tavern.
10) And Then There Were Ten
For a brief moment there was a flurry of activity amongst the scientific community concerning the possibility of yet another large object, the fabled tenth planet, orbiting beyond Pluto. The argument remains unsettled to this day. A patch on the Prophet V synthesiser allows you to play a note and its fifth simultaneously. Inspired by this exotic sound I developed some unusual chords which, in turn, inspired Ray to write the melody.
I was thrilled when I discovered that a piece I had written in 3/4 in the key of C joined up perfectly with a piece I had written (originally for the descant recorder) in 4/4 in the key of E flat. To me this music had an image, not only of the desert, but also of a camel’s bottom as it gracefully, and purposefully, loped by. Peter Van Hooke completed the picture with his highly original electronic drum part.