Foster, Frank

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Foster, Frank

Foster, Frank, American saxophonist, arranger; b. Cincinnati, Ohio, Sept. 23, 1928. He proved to be musically adept from an early age, and by the time he entered high school, he was writing and arranging for his own 12-piece band. While studying music at Wilber-force Univ. (now Central State Univ.), he composed, arranged, and played alto and tenor saxophones with the Wilberforce Collegians, a 20-piece band. Following

his college years, he joined the “Snooky” Young band in Detroit as an alto saxophonist, and worked as a freelance artist with Milt Jackson and Wardell Gray. After returning from the Far East in 1953, where he served with the 7th Army Infantry Division Band, he joined the Count Basie Band as a tenor saxophonist. In addition to performing, he made significant contributions to the band with his compositions and arrangements, which included “Down for the Count/7 “Blues Backstage/7 “Shiny Stockings/7 and “Four-Five-Six/7

among others. Foster remained with the Basie Band until 1964. In addition to touring and recording with his own groups, he has worked with Clark Terry, Elvin Jones, the Johnny Richards Orch., Dexter Gordon, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orch., and Benny Goodman.

In 1980 he was commissioned by Jazzmobile to write a suite for the Winter Olympics. The resulting Lake Placid Suite was performed at the Olympics by a 20-piece orchestra, under his direction. In 1986, Foster took over the leadership of the Count Basie Orch., writing and arranging for the band until he resigned in 1995. During these years, his arrangements helped to earn the band numerous Grammy nominations, two of which resulted in Grammy awards. His Loud Minority Big Band, which he formed during the early 1980s, has reunited and is still performing today.


The Loud Minority (1983); Two for the Blues (1983); Frankly Speaking (1984).

—Susan K. Berlowitz