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Jon Faddis Remembers Frank Foster

The trumpeter on the master arranger and saxophonist who died last July

Frank Foster receiving Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center. Photo by Valerie Russell.
Frank Foster

My favorite story about Frank Foster as an arranger took place at a jazz education conference. Frank was scheduled to do a master class on arranging, and I went to hear him. He had 60 minutes, during which he was going to write an arrangement for the Basie band, which Bill Hughes was directing at the time, and the band was going to perform it right there. At around 50 minutes he said, “OK, we’re ready,” and he counted it off and it was this unbelievable arrangement. He did it in less than an hour. I was just knocked out!

I first became aware of Frank Foster when I was around 11 or 12. But I first met him when I was a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band. He would pop in and out and we did a tour of Europe when I was about 19. Frank started calling me “Son.” We would hang out and walk around. He would get something to drink and I would get a Coca-Cola. Then he started to call me for recording sessions or gigs with his own band, Loud Minority.

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