Kenyatta Beasley: Frank Foster Songbook

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A very nice surprise. The leader, originally from New Orleans and a name new to me, turns out to be a formidable trumpeter. Also, I had never studied the writing of Frank Foster at any length. We all know and admire his Shiny Stockings arrangement for Count Basie, a tune deliberately omitted from this collection, but most people would find it hard to name too many others. Having often felt let down by the originals that make up so-called blowing dates, I’ve absolutely no reservations about the choices here.

These have been neatly arranged by Kenyatta Beasley for the septet and all members get chances to shine in front of the live audience at the Jazz 966 club in Brooklyn. One can rely on Mark Gross for solos both stirring and imaginative, and the same goes for Anthony Wonsey and the less-familiar Keith Loftis, heard mostly on tenor, and Vincent Gardner. The appearance of Wynton Marsalis, who it seems just happened to drop by, adds a contrasting and slightly cooler trumpet approach to a couple of tracks.

The first of two CDs has a Latin feel overall, with Chiquito Loco framed by Cicade and Viva Terressa. Possibly the standout track, Skull Doughery kicks off the second disc at a lively tempo. After a ballad feature for soprano, Katherine The Great settles into a relaxed groove followed by Manhattan Fever in triple time.

Discography
CD1: (1) Hip Shakin’; (2) Simone; (3) Cicade; House That Love Built; Chiquito Loco; (1)Viva Terressa (61.41)
CD2: (3) Skull Doughery; Grey Thursday; (4) Katherine The Great; (5) Manhattan Fever; (3) Cecilia Is Love (60.38)
(1) Beasley (t); Vincent Gardner (tb); Keith Loftis (ss, ts); Mark Gross (as); Anthony Wonsey (p); Mark Whitfield (g); Dezron Douglas (b); Alvester Garnett (d). Brooklyn, 8 and 10 June 2012. (2) as (1) Whitfield out, Carla Cook (v). (3) as (2) Cook out. (4) as (3) Wynton Marsalis (t). (5) as (4) Eric Wyatt (ts).
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