It’s always nice to see a respected jazz veteran have the opportunity to get his name on the front of a new album, especially if it’s someone who has for the most part kept a pretty low profile over the course of his career.
Drummer Al Foster has been in the business for many years, beginning as a precocious self-taught teenager and eventually appearing with many of the greats, but is not as well-known as some of his contemporaries. That might change with the release of a new album on the JazzEyes label, Love, Peace and Jazz!
Foster is probably best known for his many years of playing behind Miles Davis, but the list of stars he’s worked with reads like a Who’s Who of jazz. Some names you just might recognize are Cannonball Adderley, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock.
For this album, he’s joined by the current members of his quartet, including Ed Degibri on sax, pianist Kevin Hays, and bassist Douglas Weiss. Solid musicians all, and at their best here, performing live at the Village Vanguard in New York. The music they provide pretty much reflects Foster’s roots in post-bop, with three of the six tracks dating from those days.
The balance of the pieces are Foster’s own later compositions, with the opener, “The Chief,” probably the best among them. It features some especially nice work by Degibri on sax, demonstrating that Foster is not the type of leader who needs to always be a dominating presence. His generosity gives the group’s other members plenty of opportunities to show their individual talents.
Among the established songs were some choice bits such as “Blue Green,” a Miles Davis standard, but my favorite was probably “Fungii Mama,” a Blue Mitchell tune from the Blue Note years. It’s well-served by Foster and the guys in a lively and inventive rendition. Good stuff. As is the album — give it a listen.