New album release July 14, 2023
A Bird in the Hand
Featuring guitarist Ryan Ferreira and bassist Chris Tordini
Released in 2018 featuring Jesse Elder, Chris Tordini, and Devin Grey
One of the most sublime and delightful finds on New York City’s youth-infused jazz scene. When Zack Foley performs, improvisation goes transcendental.
David Friend of Vanity Fair
A Bird in the Hand is a manifestation of my explorations into the world of fuzz pedals that took place against the backdrop of burning out as a social worker during the pandemic and moving from Brooklyn to Texas to care for my father, which in turn triggered generational trauma with my mother. So making A Bird in the Hand was a very personal journey of revelation and self-discovery.
Just before the pandemic hit, I began exploring guitar-based effects after visiting Ryan Ferreira's Brooklyn studio, where I was riveted by the depth of Ryan's sound and his infinitely creative relationship with modulation and processing. For years I'd been struggling to express with my “acoustic” voice the sounds I was hearing in my head. With encouragement from Ryan and other guitarist buddies, I started messing around first with delays and reverbs and eventually with overdrive and fuzz pedals. Fuzz was the game changer. Happily falling down the rabbit hole of fuzz, I found my way to the beloved "Germanium Fuzz Face," which imbues my voice with the loveliest characteristics of fuzz while retaining my core vocal sound. Fuzz opened singing to more creativity and fun, and as I burned the midnight oil, melodies began emerging out of open-ended improvisations. Here were the origin and material for my new record, A Bird in the Hand.
I'm lucky to be able to make music with guitarist Ryan Ferreira and bassist Chris Tordini. Ryan’s grounded vibe, the space he creates when he plays, and his gorgeous sounds help me to feel relaxed and comfortable in my own skin, to let the music breathe, to let the sounds lead the way. Chris is my favorite bass player. He has exquisite taste and every note that man plays is life-affirming and is just the best damn note there is for that moment. We played a handful of shows together in 2018-2019 under the moniker, Heavy Lettuce. Four songs on the record ("Nooch Lady," "A Bird in the Hand," "Flavor Heat," and "Bodo Beya") feature this trio. Two songs, "Inward" and "Outward," are fully improvised “duets.” On these two tracks, I sing with my fuzz rig into Ryan’s H9000 processor. Ryan is processing/modulating my voice in real-time while I am responding in real-time to what he is doing, i.e. I have a "conversation with myself" of sorts, creating a fuzzy vocal landscape. "Inward" and "Outward" were true one-off improvisations, and I liked them so much that they ended up on the record. The album closes with a more traditional voice and guitar duet called "Analog Sun." The landscape of the Texas Hill Country is another important contributor to this record. Moving to Texas from Brooklyn afforded me long hours of driving along winding, county Texas roads, listening to music and taking in the big sky, the rolling hills, the rivers and the streams. Ryan’s guitar sounds fit this landscape beautifully. The song "A Bird in the Hand is worth Two in the Bush" is the perfect soundtrack for a drive in the country or the desert.
A Bird in the Band is a genuine artistic statement and serious foray into the possibilities open to the human voice as a jazz instrument. By using fuzz, I was for the first time able to express the sounds that I've been hearing for so long in my head, allowing me to escape my body and enter into a more instrumental landscape, one that I feel truly at home in. This is also the first record I have released with completely original material. The music on A Bird in the Hand was deeply inspired by guitarist and mentor, David Torn, a fuzz and sound pioneer who has influenced generations of musicians. David continues to make riveting works of art and has been insanely generous with his time and insights. I am forever grateful for the music and friendship of Jason Moran and the Bandwagon, for Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet, for Thom Yorke with Radiohead and The Smile, for Tim Berne’s bands, for Betty Carter, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Matheny, Paul McCartney, and Neil Young. I am also inspired and encouraged by my friendships with Robert Glasper and Brad Mehldau. I consider my music to be in the lineage of Houston pianist Dave Catney, who tragically passed away in 1994 at age 33. Dave showed me the way, and I wish for my music to be a continuation for him.
About Zack Foley
Zack Foley is an improvising vocalist currently based in San Antonio, TX.
Bands Zack plays with:
Zack Foley Trio
Guitarist Ryan Ferreira and bassist Chris Tordini
A duet Zack co-leads with drummer Paul Sundberg, is currently for hire in the San Antonio/Austin area.
A new music group composed primarily of monastics in Thich Nhat Hanh's Zen tradition. The group completed its first East Coast tour in the spring of 2023.
Zack performed extensively with Jesse Elder from 2005 – 2012 in bands that featured Tyshawn Sorrey, Chris Tordini, Nasheet Waits, Logan Richardson, and Jeremy Viner. Zack's musical friendship with Jesse culminated in the release of Foldersnacks in 2010.
Zack grew up in Houston TX and attended the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. He lived in NYC for the next 20 years, studying jazz performance and Manhattan School of Music, New School and City College, where he eventually earned his BFA.
Alongside jazz gigs in NYC, Zack pursued a masters in social work at Hunter College. Since 2015, Zack has worked in the field of inpatient psychiatry.
In 2021, Zack moved back to Texas to care for his father and rekindled his longstanding duet with drummer Paul Sundberg. During the pandemic Zack began experimenting with fuzz and other guitar based effects in an effort to feel more free in improvisational settings. These effects are featured heavily in the band, Archaic Torso.
Zack considers his music to be in the lineage of Houston pianist, Dave Catney, who died tragically in 1994 at age 33. Dave introduced Zack to Black American music, and Zack wishes to be a continuation for Dave.