Gary Foster

Gary Foster, born May 25, 1936, is an American instrumentist who plays clarinets, saxophones and flutes (Multireedist). He is considered a “crossover artist” who can perform in pop, jazz and classical genres. He has recorded jazz music under his own name on Concord Records as well as several other labels. He is well-known for his relaxed and elegant style on the alto and tenor trombones. He was a fan of Lee Konitz, Lennie Tristano and Warne Mars. Over 500 film scores have been scored by his woodwinds, and he has also been a part of more than 200 television and live orchestras. He is a prominent figure in the film, television and music recording industries for over five decades. His recordings include soundtracks for many Grammy, Academy Award and Emmy-winning media, as well as soundtracks for composers like Bob Dylan, Carol Burnett and Natalie Cole. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) has awarded Gary Foster the Most Valuable Player Award in woodwind doubling. Gary Foster was born in Leavenworth in Kansas in 1936. He started playing the clarinet when he was 13. Olin Parker was Foster’s first musical inspiration. He was a Jr. High School music director, and private teacher. Olin introduced Foster to Woody Herman and Count Basie, and he was his personal musical inspiration. He listened to Woody Herman’s orchestra recording of “Four Brothers”, a late 1940s jazz saxophone legend Stan Getz, Zoot SIMS and Serge Chaloff. Foster praised Getz’s tone on the tenor-saxophone. Foster recognizes Getz and the other players as significant influences. Foster’s first professional experience was as a 15-year-old player at Leavenworth VFW hall dances with Harold Stanford. “If they don’t dance, you weren’t doing your job,” Foster said. Foster studied high school at Central College, Fayette, Missouri. He then transferred to the University of Kansas, where he primarily studied music education and classical clarinet. He earned his BM (Bachelor in Music Education and Bachelors in Clarinet Performance) and continued graduate studies in Musicology, Conducting, and Musicology. He met and played with Carmell Jones, a Kansas City jazz trumpeter. Gary Foster, who was 26 years old in 1961, moved to Los Angeles to become a jazz artist on West Coast. He taught private lessons and also studied the flute. Foster moved to Alhambra in California, near downtown, to be a jazz saxophonist. He soon realized that there wasn’t enough work for him to earn a living playing jazz. To support his family, he took up studio work as a woodwind doubler. Foster’s first friendships with Clare Fischer in Los Angeles and Warne Mars in Los Angeles were crucial to his artistic approach to jazz improvisation. Zan Stewart, a jazz critic, more closely associate Foster’s style (on the saxophone), with that of Lee Konitz, Paul Desmond or Art Pepper (West Coast Jazz Style); Lennie Tristano’s music and Warne Marsh’s concepts have been a great source of inspiration and influence throughout the years. Clare Fischer was a mentor, inspiration and friend for almost fifty years. Foster recalls, “There was great nourishment that part of my life.” “Clare…it’s difficult to find any words that describe him, he is so unique…And Warne was one of my closest friends.” Foster stated that if given the option, he would choose to focus his energies and time on jazz. “I am a jazz player at heart… That’s my main interest.” He was part of the Grammy Award-winning Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin Big Band from 1973 to 1982. The group recorded extensively and toured extensively. He also played in the reed section of several notable big bands, including Clare Fischer and Louis Bellson. Mike Barone, Ed Shaughnessy, Marty Paich Dekette, and Mike Barone. Poncho Sanchez and Cal Tjader are some of the other notable jazz groups Foster was a part and recorded with. He has been working in the “… studios for over 45 years. However, it is cyclical. His credits include television, films, recordings, and media. Few studio musicians can match Foster’s longevity and dedication to his work, now that he is in his fifth decade as a professional musician in Los Angeles. He has been working on soundtracks for films such as Monsters Inc. (film), Ice Age (film), Elf(film), Meet The Fokkers (film), Haunted Mansion, and many others. His T.V. credits include work with Peter Matz on The Carol Burnett Show (which won multiple Emmys). His T.V. credits date back to 1960s and include several seasons as music director Peter Matz for The Carol Burnett Show (which has won multiple Emmys); Foster was part of the Academy Awards Television Orchestra (telecast, awards ceremony) for 30 broadcasts. Foster is a rare woodwind player because of his focus on classical repertoire and playing. This is important for his musical success and career. He has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as well as the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra. Only a few musicians have been able to seamlessly and often cross over from jazz, classical, pop on multiple instruments at such an elevated level. Gary Foster is a strong supporter of music education. He has been teaching at the collegiate and private levels since 1960. He was on the Pasadena City College faculty from 1971 to 1991 and held the Millsap Visiting Professor of Saxophone position at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) from 1984 to 2000. He was also a professor of jazz at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Foster started Nova Music Studios, Pasadena, California to train private musicians. Foster has also co-authored educational materials that feature Foster’s soloing and playing style for Alfred Publishing to help younger saxophone players. Gary Foster gives clinics at colleges several time a year, and also performs at professional music symposiums. From Wikipedia

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