Mick Foster: Live At The Vortex


We’ve had to wait eight years since Mick Foster last released an album but if there was ever an appropriate time to bring out a record, it would seem to be now. Many of us at home have been forced to play our record collections on repeat. Foster’s club date gives us a sense of hope we might be able to listen to live music once again.

Recorded in 2018 at The Vortex Jazz Club in London with an unchanged group from his previous album Four Views (Hainault, 2012), the quartet showcases guitarist Dominic Ashworth, Tom Farmer on bass and drummer Tristan Mailliot. With Foster’s previous release being a collection of favoured standards, Live At The Vortex demonstrates his ability to write seven original compositions.

The opening track, named Quinta Quinta, is an opportunity for us to experience the warm tone of Foster’s baritone saxophone sound. What starts off as a simple melodic theme develops into a contrapuntal tapestry with melodies weaving between each other.

One can only assume that For Astor is dedicated to Astor Piazzolla. Ashworth begins with a romantic solo cadenza before the rest of the musicians enter. Foster this time performs on the alto saxophone which seems to fit appropriately.

Grasshopper is a light-hearted track clearly with a spring in its step. There’s a chance for Mailliot to let loose as he trades solos with Ashworth and Foster, all three communicating with flair and expression.

Live At The Vortex shows us that Foster is creative in his writing with a diverse range of compositional styles and influences. These works are then enhanced by an inspirational rhythm section that display ingenuity and intelligence. Aside from his compositional skill, there can be no doubt of Foster’s ability to switch effortlessly and convincingly between three contrasting instruments. This is a highly satisfying journey, which operates at a high level in the art of jazz composition. Any young compositional enthusiast like myself can find a wealth of inspiration from this recording.

Quinta Quinta; May Daze; For Astor; Feverish; Sea Change; Candlemas; The Grasshopper (53.43)
Foster (bar, as, ss); Dominic Ashworth (g); Tom Farmer (b); Tristan Mailliot (d). Vortex Jazz Club, London, 2018.
Hainault Records HNT 0015