CD review

Mick Foster – “Live at The Vortex”

Mick Foster – Live at The Vortex (released 14 October)
(Hainault Records HNT 0015. CD review by Lavender Sutton)

Mick Foster is a well-known saxophonist in the UK’s classical music and jazz world, most notably for being a proponent and expert of the baritone and bass saxophones. His newest album Live at The Vortex showcases him on the baritone and proves his skill in this area while juxtaposing that richness and intricacy with his beautiful soprano sax skills.

Featuring Dominic Ashworth on guitar, Tom Farmer on bass and Tristan Mailliot on drums, it’s the same line-up as on Foster’s previous album, Four Views, which was a collection of well-loved standards. The difference here is that this album features seven of Foster’s original compositions.

Recorded in 2018, lockdown may have influenced Foster’s decision to release this music now. Whatever the reasoning, it’s a welcome treat; his compositions range from exhilarating to romantic and offer insight into another layer of his talent. Each piece delicately reflects the instruments he plays. The baritone pieces are more rousing and playful while still showing off the impressive dexterity required to play such a powerful instrument, like in Quinta Quinta and May Daze, which also displays his contrapuntal writing style.

Feverish gives each member of the band a little showcase, as Foster and Ashworth mischievously play a musical game of cat and mouse back and forth through the melody and Mailliot reacts accordingly too. Ashworth’s solo in this one is impressive.

Sea Change is reminiscent of just that, a calming day when the tide is out. There’s something about the soprano sax tone that embodies this feeling and Foster’s delivery is rich and meaningful. Farmer plays a lovely bass solo, with just the right amount of melody and sophistication.

The merit and variety of his compositions, combined with the talent that Foster displays, is brought harmoniously together by all four musicians in their uninhibited performances. One would know it was a live gig only by the intermittent clapping at the end of a solo. So, while music venues slowly start reopening, as a silver lining, getting to hear a recording like this gives listeners a taste of what they are all desperately craving – live music at its finest.

Live at The Vortex is released on 14 October 2020

LINKS:Pre-order the album from Bandcamp
Mick Foster’s website

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