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Frank Foster: Well Water & Manhattan Fever

Marcia Hillman By

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Frank Foster
Well Water
Piadrum
2006


Frank Foster
Manhattan Fever
Blue Note
2007




Well Water—Frank Foster leading an exciting 20-piece big band—was recorded in 1977 and never released, the master tapes considered lost until discovered in the home of Don Hunerberg, the session's original engineer. The opener, Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring , features tight unison sax/flute work, setting the tone for an album which captures the joy of musicians inspired together. There's Kiane Zawadi's tasteful trombone on "Simone , CI Williams' smooth alto on "There'll Be A Time and Charles Sullivan's scorching trumpet work on the title track, not to mention Foster's fluid tenor and soprano sax throughout. Elvin Jones—Foster's cousin!—provides energy with drumwork to make anyone swing; check out his solo on his "Three Card Molly . Foster even includes a bit of funk with his original "Someone's Rocking My Jazz Boat , a possible crossover pop hit. This album could have been done minutes instead of decades ago, with inventive arrangements and a fresh band. Some of the musicians are no longer with us—most notably Jones — but thankfully this music survives.

Manhattan Fever, recorded in two sessions in 1968-69, features two sets of personnel, with only Foster and drummer Mickey Roker as constants. Part of the album is a straight reissue but four tracks are available for the first time. Most of the material is Foster originals and he is responsible for the arrangements. Among them are a sensitive reading of the beautiful ballad "The House That Love Built and "Stammpede , written for trumpeter Marvin Stamm, who delivers some electricity. The rest of the tracks display a tightly knit group—Garnett Brown or Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), Richard Wyands or George Cables (piano), Bob Cranshaw or Buster Williams (bass), Burt Collins (trumpet) and Ed Pazani (reeds)—on the driving arrangements.

On Jan. 9th in Toronto, ASCAP and the International Association for Jazz Education celebrate Foster's life and work by premiering two works commissioned in his honor.


Tracks and Personnel

Well Water

Tracks: Joy Spring; Cecilia In Love; Simone; There'll Be A Time; Someone's Rocking My Jazz Boat; Well Water; Three Card Molly.

Personnel: Frank Foster: tenor sax/soprano sax; Elvin Jones: drums; Earl May: acoustic bass/electric bass; Babafum Akunyun: percussion; Leroy Barton: altgo sax/flute; Bill Cody: tenor sax/flute/piccolo; Doug Harris: tenor sax/flute; Kenny Rogers: baritone sax/ Bill Saxton: tenor sax/flute/soprano sax; C.I. Williams: alto sax/flute; Bill Lowe: trombone; Janice Robinson: trombone; Charles Stephens: trombone; Kiane Zawadi: trombone; Sinclair Acey: trumpet; Charles Sullivan: trumpet; Don McIntosh: trumpet; Joe Gardner: trumpet; Cecil Bridgewater: trumpet.

Manhattan Fever

Tracks: Little Miss No Nose; Manhattan Fever; Loneliness; Stammpede; You Gotta Be Kiddin'; Seventh Avenue Bill; Slug's Bag; What's New From The Monster Mill; Hip Shakin' The House That Love Built; Fly By Night.

Personnel: Tracks 1-6 Frank Foster: tenor sax; Marvin Stamm: trumpet; Garnett Brown: trombone; Richard Wyands: piano; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Mickey Roker: drums. Tracks 7-11 Frank Foster: tenor sax/clarinet; Burt Collins: trumpet/piccolo trumpet; Jimmy Cleveland: trombone; Ed Pazani: alto sax/flute/oboe; George Cables: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Mickey Roker: drums.

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