Written by Jim Eigo:
Join Family and Friends at the
Jazz icons, friends
and dedicated fans will come together to pay tribute to jazz giant Frank
Foster, at a Birthday Memorial Celebration on Friday, September 23, at 6:00
pm, at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 Odell Clark Place (formerly
West 138th Street) in Harlem. On what would have been Dr. Foster's 83rd
birthday, the public is invited to celebrate the life and music of the renowned
saxophonist, composer, arranger, bandleader and educator. The service will
be officiated by Abyssinian's Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III.
Birthday Memorial Celebration
for Dr. Frank Foster
Friday, September 23, 6:00 pm, The Abyssinian Baptist Church, Harlem
Jimmy Heath, Carmen Bradford, Cecil Bridgewater,
Harold Mabern, Jr. and others to Pay Tribute
to the Renowned Saxophonist/Composer/Arranger/Bandleader/Educator
in Service Officiated by Dr. Calvin O. Butts
Tributes will be presented by Jimmy Heath, Carmen Bradford, Cecil Bridgewater,
Frank Wess, Harold Mabern, Jr. and others.
Frank "Fos" Foster was best known for his mainstream big band work as a
tenor saxophonist and composer/arranger with the Count Basie Orchestra from
1953 – 1964. After Basie's death, Foster became the Orchestra's band director
from 1986 – 1995. Other career highlights include stints with the Lloyd
Price Big Band, Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra and Thad
Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. He also performed with bands led by Johnny Richards,
Duke Pearson, Benny Goodman, Peter Duchin and with Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine.
"Fos' pride and joy were his own New York-based bands, the 10-piece Swing
Plus and the 16-piece The Loud Minority," said Cecilia Foster, his wife,
partner, best friend and manager for 50 years.
As an instrumentalist, Foster performed with numerous musicians including
Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Quincy Jones, Miles
Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Dr.
Billy Taylor, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Frank Wess, Billie Holiday, Dexter
Gordon and Sonny Stitt.
With hundreds of scores to his name, some of Foster's most notable compositions
include Shiny Stockings, Blues in Hoss' Flat (originallyBlues in Frankie's
Flat), Cecilia Is Love, Four, Five, Six, Back to the Apple, Little Chicago
Fire, Blues Backstage, Down for the Count,Someone's Rocking My Jazz Boat,
Simone, Manhattan Fever, The Hampton Strut, Ode to Joe Newman, Shihtsu-Mon,
Come On In and Yo Recuerdo A Mi Hermano Tito (dedicated to Tito Puente).
As a consummate arranger, Foster was in constant demand. He arranged charts
for Frank Sinatra, George Benson, Lena Horne, Jimmy Witherspoon, Sarah Vaughan,
Benny Goodman, Lloyd Price, Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Woody Herman,
Harry James, McCoy Tyner, Tony Bennett, Arthur Prysock, Donald Byrd, The
King of Thailand and the SDR German Radio Big Band, among others.
Dr. Foster also received numerous writing commissions including The Ithaca
Suite for Ithaca College and The Lake Placid Suite for Jazzmobile as well
as commissions for Carnegie Hall Jazz Band conducted by Jon Faddis, The
Metropole Orchestra of Hilversum (Holland), Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra,
Malaysia Filharmonik, The Harpers Ferry Historical Association and The Chicago
Dr. Foster never failed to encourage, educate and provide opportunities
to all musicians. He taught at many institutions across the country including
Jazzmobile, Rutgers University, The State University of New York at Buffalo,
New York University, The New School and New England Conservatory of Music.
A member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP),
Foster was honored on its 2006 Jazz Wall of Fame. Also recognized by the
National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, he was nominated for
a Grammy Award in 1984 and won twice for arrangements in 1987 for Diane
Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra and again in 1991 for George Benson
and the Count Basie Orchestra. Foster produced soundtracks for Woody Allen's
Hannah and Her Sisters, Jerry Lewis' The Errand Boy and Spike Lee's Mo'
Better Blues. In 2002, Foster was named a National Endowment for the Arts
Jazz Master; in 2009, he was awarded the BNY Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award.
In addition, he was awarded honorary degrees from his alma mater, Central
State University (Ohio), 1983; College of St. Rose (New York), 1993; and
Old Dominion University (Virginia), 2009. Dr. Foster's music and papers
will be archived at Duke University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Born September 23, 1928, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Frank Benjamin Foster, III
began his musical career at age 11, recognized, encouraged and supported
by his middle-class parents. For most of his long career, his home was Scarsdale,
New York, with his wife Cecilia, son Frank IV and daughter Andrea Jardis.
With his first wife Vivian Wilson, he also had two sons, Anthony K. Foster
and Donald B. Foster, both of California.
In February 1998, the Fosters moved to Chesapeake, Virginia. In March 2001,
Dr. Foster suffered a stroke that left him unable to play the saxophone,
but he continued to compose, arrange and teach. On July 26, 2011, at the
age of 82, Dr. Foster passed away at home.
Memorial donations can be made to the Jazz Foundation
of America, 322 West 48th Street, 6th Floor New York,
NY 10036. For more information on the organization, visit
CONTACT: Carolyn McClair / CMPR
For information and directions to The Abyssinian Baptist Church, visit
www.abyssinian.org. To reach the Church by public transportation, take the
2, 3, B, C trains to 135th Street or M2 and M7 buses.
(917) 686-0854 / Info@CarolynMcClairPR.com
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