Mo Foster

Live at Blues West 14

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In the first half of the '90s, Mo Foster was dragged off to a small supper club in Kensington, London, and found himself a home. Here the bassist, guitarist Ray Russell. and pianists Simon Chamberlain and Dave Hartley, along with other musician friends, worked live on new pieces, a clutch of which evolved into Foster's Time to Think album. Foster taped these gigs, as well as those performed at other small venues, eventually going back to them and discovering a group worthy of recording; with some additions, of course. Initially, none of the pieces featured drums, which were subsequently overdubbed. Foster himself annotates each of the songs and discusses the album itself within the sleeve notes. Live at Blues West 14 is a diverse collection that shimmers from the gentle reggae that blows in with the "Tradewinds" to the Vivaldi inspired blues of "The Four Susans." Chamberlain struts his best stuff on "Prelude -- Blues SW19," while the whole group, including drummer Gary Husband, gets an energetic workout on "Oh No." Some of the pieces are quite old, including the dreamy "So Far Away." Others, like "Hot Buttered Cats," are brand new. Some of the songs here have been featured on other albums, as with "Crete: Yet Another Visit," which features a strikingly different arrangement. Others are the original versions of later recordings. All told, it's a sublime journey, through myriad back alleys and byways, jazz and blues as they were meant to be heard, in a relaxed atmosphere in a small club, where creativity can bloom.

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