A TRIBUTE TO COUNT BASIE Plays At Virginia Arts Festival 2/20
The Virginia Arts Festival and SevenVenues will present a tribute to jazz icon William “Count” Basie at the historic Attucks Theatre in Norfolk on February 20, 2009, featuring the music of Grammy-winning saxophonist, arranger, composer and band leader, Frank Foster.
The consummate big band leader of the swing era, Count Basie is an American institution known for his relaxed, “conversational” style and the simple “plink, plink, plink” closing triplets that were the signature sign-off of his band’s numbers.
Frank Foster joined the Count Basie Orchestra fresh out of the Army in 1953, replacing fellow
tenor Lockjaw Davis. Basie noted Foster’s gift for up-tempo arrangements. In his 11 years with
the Count, Foster contributed an impressive list of original selections to the Basie song book,
including "Blues Backstage," "Down for the Count," and his best known piece, “Shiny
Stockings,” for which Basie, a man of few words, paid him the highest compliment when he said,
“ You really put one down that time.”
Foster left Basie’s band in 1964 to pursue other musical interests, including the formation of his
“Moral Majority” of the 1970s. Some of his many recordings as a leader include Here Comes Frank Foster (Blue Note, 1954), Two Franks Please! (Savoy, 1957), Fearless Frank Fosterown group, The Loud Minority, the name of which was a not-so-subtle jab at the conservative (Prestige, 1965), Manhattan Fever (Blue Note, 1968), Shiny Stockings (Denon, 1987), Frankly Speaking (Concord, 1995) and Swing (Challenge, 1998). He has composed and orchestrated music for The Carnegie Hall Jazz Ensemble, The Detroit Civic Symphony Orchestra, The Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble, The Jazzmobile Corporation of New York City, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Malaysia Symphony Orchestra, The Metropole Orchestra of Hilversum, Holland, and The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.
After Count Basie’s death in 1984, Foster succeeded Thad Jones as leader of the Basie band in 1986. He remained in the position until 1995. Foster currently resides in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife and manager of more than 40 years, Cecilia Foster. He recently contributed as an arranger for Tony Bennett’s 2008 release, A Swingin’ Christmas, featuring the Count Basie Big Band.
Foster will be joined onstage at the Attucks Theatre by the Virginia Arts Festival Big Band, a 16-
piece ensemble led by well known local jazz pianist John Toomey. Mr. Toomey currently serves as the Music Director for the Virginia Arts Festival’s Attucks Jazz Club series and is the Chair of the Music Department and Director of the Jazz Studies Program Old Dominion University. He has performed in concert with such artists as Clark Terry, Milt Hinton, Joe Kennedy, Ron Carter, and Frank Foster and has been designated as a cultural specialist in Jazz by the United States Information Agency.
The performance will take place on Friday, February 20, 2009 at 8 PM at the Attucks Theatre, Norfolk. Tickets cost $20, student tickets $10. For more information call: 800-982-ARTS or visit www.vafest.org.