Al Foster

Love, Peace and Jazz! Live at the Village Vanguard

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Known primarily as a sideman, veteran drummer Al Foster nevertheless has led a quartet since 1997, as noted by his bassist throughout, Douglas Weiss, in this album's annotations, playing "nearly 500 dates all around the world," or about 50 a year. In that time, Foster's group has been recorded only twice, at the outset by the German Laika label for the album Brandyn, and here, ten years later, by the Italian label Jazz Eyes. In the interim, the piano and saxophone positions have turned over, here occupied by Kevin Hays and Eli Degibri, respectively. But the musical approach has stayed the same. Foster's group is a mainstream jazz ensemble with a post-bop orientation in which his earlier associations as a sideman are evoked. Among the six tracks here are three originals (one of which, "Brandyn," also appeared on Foster's earlier album) and three songs from his employers, Blue Mitchell's "Fungii Mama," and "ESP" and "Blue in Green," both from Miles Davis' repertoire, although the former was written by Wayne Shorter. Interestingly, the Davis tunes derive from a period earlier than Foster's employment by Davis, which occurred in the early to mid-'70s and again in the early '80s. Whether the compositions are new or old, Foster shares the spotlight generously. With a running time of 69 minutes, the disc's tracks average over 11 minutes each, and that length tends to allow for extensive soloing from all hands, even Foster, although he does not abuse his position. The focus here is on supportive ensemble work by a group of accomplished musicians.

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