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Herman Foster


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He really caught my attention on Disc 2 of the Lou Donaldson Mosaic from the 1957 BN date Swing and Soul. I didn't have the discography handy. On a couple tracks I was pretty certain I was listening to Horace Silver with the locked-hands thing that worked so well with a latin beat, but then he sounded delicate as Teddy Wilson on a couple ballads. I looked it up, and it's Herman Foster. I know nothing about him, and I couldn't find any threads about him outside of his work on this Mosaic set. It looks like he was a sideman for Lou Donaldson for years, but he did make a few records as a leader in the early 60s for Epic and Argo. Anyone have those? How are they??





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I've heard these courtesy of a friend (or two) - they are OK but not tremendous, kind of like Duke Pearson's BN trio albums. Definitely nice but not earth shattering. Its as if with a Pearson trio recording, you lose his gift for arrangements/writing, and with Foster, what's missing is another solo voice like LD.

He sounds good on those LD Argos, that's for sure.

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I have all the Herman Foster you are talking about. They are all fine records, and HF was a very original pianist, with a very distinctive sound. I recommend the Explosive Piano of Herman Foster on Epic . Among his other records, which is the best of all his trio/leader work.

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I knew Herman because he was a friend of Percy France, and he worked with Percy occasionally in the 1970s - he was a fine guy and a terrific musician who sometimes lacked taste, maybe (did a little too much block chording). He can also be heard, as he told me, on a lot of Gloria Lynn recordings. Sweet guy, once helped me out by backing Carmen Lundy on an audition at the club One Fifth (I was booking Carmen at the time, but that's another sad story - she is difficult to say the least). He played beautifully, was one of those guys who only has to hear something once and he's got the whole thing down, and liked to do a lot of those Nat Cole-type block chords -

Edited by AllenLowe
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  • 6 months later...

I purchased Lou Donaldson's "Blues Walk" in the past day and came across the listing of musicians on the session and thought to myself, Herman Foster. Never heard of this guy. I think his playing is well represented on this release. Glad to come across this thread and see others who also admired his work.

Edited by Tom 1960
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Herman was in King Curtis' band through the late fifties - when he wasn't in Lou Donaldson's band :) He swapped from one to the other. The main KC album he was on is "Have tenor sax, will blow". He also played on Al Casey's "Buck jumpin'" (Swingville) which is an utterly marvellous album mde by the Curtis band with Rudy Powell instead of Curtis. In this period he was also on Gloria Lynne's "Thunderbird" album, which I keep meaning to buy. He was also on Jean DuShon's first LP - another I ought to get.

I also wish I had "Ready & willing" - I have his other 3 albums.

In the eighties, he was with Lou Donaldson again and they made four lovely albums together - two for Muse, to for Timeless - that were Lou's return to straight ahead jazz after the crap he did for Cotilion. Not reissued on CD I think.

Herman had an interesting approach to dynamics. Some of the notes he hits on ballads just go right through me!

Truly, as Lou always used to say - "The one and only Herman Foster!"


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