b. 18 May 1892, McCall, Louisiana, USA, d. 30 October 1969, San Francisco, California, USA. One of the pioneers of string bass playing, Foster began his musical career as a cellist and also occasionally played brass bass. After performing in New Orleans in the early years of the century with Kid Ory, King Oliver and others, he joined Fate Marable’s riverboat band in 1917. He was also with the unit Ory led in California in the early 20s. Foster spent the mid-20s in the St. Louis area and by the end of the decade he was in New York working with Luis Russell. He stayed with Russell for several years, during which time the band became, in effect, the Louis Armstrong orchestra. In 1940, as the revival movement got under way, Foster was in great demand and moved on to freelance work, playing with many bands, including those led by Sidney Bechet and Jimmy Archey. He played on through the 50s and early 60s, touring the USA and Europe with Sammy Price and he also spent time in bands led by Earl Hines, at San Francisco’s Hangover Club, and Elmer Snowden. Although deeply-rooted in the traditional forms of New Orleans jazz, Foster’s early preference for string bass, which he played in the traditional ‘slapping’ manner, stood him in good stead when the inevitable musical changes occurred.
Share this page