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Frank Foster

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Biography

A very talented tenor saxophonist and arranger, Frank Foster was associated with the Count Basie Orchestra off and on from 1953 to 1995. Early on, he played in Detroit with many talented local players and, after a period in the Army (1951-1953), he joined Basie's big band. Well featured on tenor during his Basie years (1953-1964), Foster also contributed plenty of arrangements and such originals as "Down for the Count," "Blues Backstage," and the standard "Shiny Stockings." In the latter half of the 1960s, Foster was a freelance writer. In addition to playing with Elvin Jones (1970-1972) and occasionally with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, he led his Loud Minority big band. In 1983, Foster co-led a quintet with Frank Wess and he toured Europe with Jimmy Smith in 1985. Although influenced by John Coltrane in his playing, Foster was able to modify his style when he took over the Count Basie ghost band in 1986, revitalizing it and staying at the helm until 1995. Outside of his Basie dates, Foster led sessions for Vogue, Blue Note (1954 and 1968), Savoy, Argo, Prestige, Mainstream, Denon, Catalyst, Bee Hive, SteepleChase, Pablo, and Concord. Foster suffered a stroke in 2001 that prevented him from playing the saxophone, but he continued to compose and arrange music during the first decade of the new millennium. He died at home in Chesapeake, Virginia in late July 2011; Frank Foster was 82 years old. ~ Scott Yanow

Top Songs

Born:

September 23, 1928 in Cincinnati, OH

Genre
Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Influencers

Contemporaries