Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Big Band is more limber than loud although it doesn’t shrink from shouting whenever that’s appropriate on this persuasive in-concert album recorded in June ‘02 at NYC’s Jazz Standard, when the seventy-three-year-old Foster was recovering from a stroke that immobilized his left arm and left leg and limited his role to that of emcee.
As one would expect from an old hand who joined the Count Basie Orchestra half a century ago and fronted the band for nine years (1986-95), Foster salutes the Count’s buoyant spirit in almost every way save repeating well-traveled numbers from the Basie book (with one exception, his classic “Shiny Stockings,” handsomely renovated for the occasion). Foster’s other originals (“G’on an’ Git It Y’all,” “Fos’ Alarm,” “Cecilia Is Love,” “Skull-Doug-Ery”) were written especially for the seven-year-old Loud Minority ensemble. Completing the program are four standards (“Stella by Starlight,” “Lover,” “You Go to My Head,” “Where or When”) and one blues, “Wild Women Don’t Worry,” the last three featuring the seductive baritone of special guest and ex-Basie vocalist Dennis Rowland.
Foster’s other guest, trumpeter Jon Faddis, shakes the rafters on “Wild Women” and “Cecilia,” and trumpeters Jeremy Pelt and Cecil Bridgewater glisten and glow on “Stella” and “Stockings,” respectively. Baritone saxophonist James Stewart is showcased on “Fos’ Alarm,” tenor Bill Saxton and drummer Sylvia Cuenca (a last-minute replacement whose forceful timekeeping earned her a permanent gig with band) on “Lover,” tenor Keith Loftis on “Skull-Doug-Ery,” while pianist Daniel Mixon has a number of engaging ideas to impart on “G’on an’ Git It,” “Cecilia,” “Skull-Doug-Ery” and (uncredited) “Shiny Stockings.” There are some other minor errors on the playlist, with trombonist Clark Gaton listed as trumpet soloist on “G’on an’ Git It,” trumpeter Derrick Gardner as trombonist on “You Go to My Head,” Rowland as vocalist (he’s not) on “Shiny Stockings.”
Echoing Basie’s philosophy, Foster writes that “you can’t keep a band of brilliant players together and burning without challenging them with a constant stream of fresh new music.” Let’s hope that Foster keeps challenging the Loud Minority for years to come.
Contact: Mapleshade Productions, 1-800-CDMAPLE. Web site, www.mapleshaderecords.com
Frank Foster, leader, arranger; Bruce Williams, Joe Ford, alto sax; Bill Saxton, Keith Loftis, tenor sax;
James Stewart, baritone sax; Frank Greene, Derrick Gardner, Kenyatta Beasley, Jeremy Pelt, Cecil
Bridgewater, trumpet; Vincent Gardner, Clark Gaton, Stafford Hunter, trombone; Bill Lowe, bass
trombone, tuba; Daniel Mixon, piano; Earl May, bass; Sylvia Cuenca, drums. Special guests