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Herman Foster: Have You Heard

Album Notes

In signing up longtime Lou Donaldson sideman Herman Foster for a trio date as a leader in 1960, Epic Records may have been hoping for a more accessible version of Thelonious Monk or Bud Powell, whose styles the pianist frequently drew upon. Foster didn't have the complexity of those predecessors, which was perhaps the point. He employed a locked-hands technique which he contrasted with melodic, single-note runs that frequently indulged in quotes from popular songs. Epic gave him some familiar material to work with here, and he made the best of it, exploring the long melody lines of "Volare" with enthusiasm and giving a playful treatment to "When I Fall in Love." "Angel Eyes," normally a mournful ballad, was the album's closer and tour de force, on which Foster found plenty of other angles on the tune. Bassist Earl May got a look in here and there, while drummer Frankie Dunlop stuck mostly with brushes and stayed mostly in the background. It was only appropriate that a perpetual sideman like Foster should get his place in the sun, at least for the length of an LP. The record did not, as it turned out, herald the beginning of a big career for the pianist, but it was more than a busman's holiday, and Epic plumped for a second disc the following year. ~ William Ruhlmann


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