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Monday, March 23, 2015

CD Review: Vicky Tilson Quartet – Mojo Risin'


Vicky Tilson – double bass; Dee Byrne - alto sax; Stuart Fiddler – guitar; Reinis Axelsson - drums
(Review by Hugh C).
Vicky Tilson, a graduate of the Guildhall post-grad jazz course, formed her first quartet in 2009 and released an album, Picture from Jitske, in the same year.  Tales from a Forgotten City followed in 2010. 
Mojo Risin’, recorded at the Cable Street Records studios in East London where Reinis Axelsson worked as a sound engineer, enabled Tilson to record in analogue and “give the album a certain warmth that digital does not”.
The album features three re-recorded stand out tunes from the quartet's first two albums, together with six new pieces exploring themes of depression, determination, immortality and patience.
A total of just over 58 minutes. 
Inspiration came from the words of Jim Morrison in The Doors song LA Woman -Mr Mojo Risin’ ”.  Tilson considers mojo risin’ to embody “everything that is good about a person on the rise; improving, developing into something spectacular like a phoenix rising from the ashes”.  She felt that was how her life was going as she composed the album, having recently been through her own personal annus horribilis.
Only the Brave starts with a rhythmic groove by the bass 'n drums soon joined by Byrne on alto and Fiddler on guitar.  The track has a funky feel with short solo passages from each.  Black Dog takes the mood down (literally) soon to morph into a kaleidoscopic whorl of sound from Byrne's alto, to be followed by steady state in four, with some nice solo work from Fiddler's guitar.  Better Late Than Never has a more uplifting feel with clever interplay between alto and guitar over a driving tempo set by the rhythm section.  Funk is back with Boho Chic featuring nifty guitar work by Stuart Fiddler over Axelsson's drums.  Headlovin' continues in the upbeat tempo with stratospheric squeals from Byrne's alto interspersed with finger pickin' good guitar work by Fiddler. 
The Eternal Ending isn't - there's still three more tracks to go!  This features a beautiful melodic line by Byrne on alto sax.  There’s no let-up in the rhythm though.  As one might expect when the band leader is a bassist there is extensive bass solo work! 
The pleasant thing to this reviewer is how the solos are seamlessly integrated into the musical narrative.  Pas du Tout has a more reflective feel than the preceding tracks allowing for a more spread out appreciation of each instrumentalist’s contribution to the whole.  The Crunch and The Kicker take us out with an almost drum 'n bass feel to the latter.
This is a crackling listen – buy it! – available March 23 on the F-IRE label.  Catalogue number F-IRECD79.   The Quartet have gigs coming up in the South and in Northern Ireland.  These guys would sound great in the some of the more intimate venues here in the North East – programmers take note!
Hugh C.

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