Frank Foster and The Loud Minority (big band) – Shiny Stockings – Denon COCB 53865 – 1978, 41:03 ****½ [Also avail. at iTunes]:
(Incl. Frank Foster, tenor and soprano sax, arranger, band leader; Don McIntosh, Virgil Jones, Chris Albert, Joe Gardner, Sinclair Acey – trumpets; Charles Williams, William Saxton, Kenny Rogers, Doug Harris, Bill Cody, Doug Harris – saxophones; Janice Robinson, Emmet McDonald, Charles Stephens, Bill Lowe, Kiane Zawadi – trombones; Mike Tucker, piano; Earl May, bass; Charlie Persip, drums)
Frank Foster formed his Loud Minority big band in the early 1970s and he led the band off and on until the early 1990s when his last recorded effort with the band was We Do It Diff’rent for Mapleshade Records. Lately Frank has been wheelchair-bound and although not playing anymore, Foster continued to be a part of the Loud Minority effort being present when the band occasionally played his charts.
From 1986 until 1995, Foster also led the Count Basie ghost band. Frank’s arranging and swinging saxophone playing was a major part of the 1950s and 1960s Basie bands and his infectious good natured spirit imbued the Basie band’s spirit. He can be found on many Basie documentaries singing the praises of Basie both as the ultimate band leader and father figure to his musicians.
Denon has re-released two of Fosters late 70s efforts, Shiny Stockings and Manhattan Fever +2. Shiny Stockings showed Foster learned his big band chops well from the master. It has the same snap, suppleness, and attention to detail. Solos are largely from Foster on sax, Sinclair Acey on trumpet, and Kiane Zawadi on trombone. Mike Tucker provides the piano accents such as Basie did. Funny quotes are thrown in such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town on the title track by pianist Tucker, as well as I’m Beginning to See the Light by Foster. Dayspring, loosely based on Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring, has a Cuban beat, simple piano lines, and a driving choruses by the horns, who have free rein to blow.
Tomorrow’s Blues Today has that languorous laid back groove that Basie’s bands made look so easy. The Loud Minority band was as good a big band as was found in the 1970s, a relatively fallow period for big bands with the exception of the Mel Lewis/ Thad Jones band (also led by another Basie veteran). Denon Japan has done a nice service for big band enthusiasts in re-releasing Shiny Stockings.
TrackList: Shiny Stockings, Love Scene, Tomorrows Blues Today, Dayspring, Hills of the North Rejoice
— Jeff Krow