Al Foster

The New Morning: The Paris Concert

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As a bandleader, veteran jazz drummer Al Foster was represented only by his 1997 album Brandyn until 2008, when the size of his catalog tripled with the release of a second CD, Love, Peace and Jazz! Live at the Village Vanguard, and this DVD, also from a 2007 concert, taped at the New Morning nightclub in Paris. For the gig, Foster's usual quartet, featuring bassist Doug Weiss, saxophonist Eli Degibri, and one of several pianists, has been augmented to a quintet with the addition of trumpeter Eddie Henderson. The piano chair is actually filled by two different players; Aaron Goldberg plays on the first five tracks, George Colligan on the last five. The addition of a trumpet is key, since it allows Foster to pursue further his typical preoccupation with his old boss Miles Davis, with whom he played in the '70s and '80s. It isn't only the music he played with Davis that interests him, although the video closes with the group's rendition of "Jean Pierre," an '80s Davis track. It begins with the Kind of Blue classic "So What," a tune that long predates Foster, and also extends to another Davis sideman, Herbie Hancock, for "Cantaloupe Island." When the band isn't playing Davis and associates, it is, as another song title puts it, "Missing Miles." But this isn't simply a Davis tribute band; rather, it is a group that plays with its own voice in the spirit of some of Davis' classic lineups, particularly the ones from the '60s. Foster leaves the soloing to his sidemen for the most part, but that doesn't keep him from propelling the set, as he sits behind his kit usually smiling, eyes closed, adding various punctuations while playing with the beat and working closely with his longtime associate Weiss, an interplay emphasized by the occasional split-screen shots of the two. Foster's band has been underrepresented on disc until now, so it's good to have a visual document of it.

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