Frank Foster Big Band at the Village Vanguard 1980

Update (June 9, 2012): I found a tape from this concert. I will add a track or two later and reblog this post.

Update (June 8, 2012): The Big Band has been identified as being Frank Foster’s band. Still help is needed in identifying the members of the band.


Continuing the digitizing of the material my friend Otto gathered on his trips to New York in 1978, 1980 and 1981 I find it sometimes hard to match the tapes in his collection to the photos in his files from these years. Of course it is possible that from some concerts only photos survived.

Here are seven photos of a big band playing (most probably) at the Village Vanguard either in probably spring 1980 or – also possible – spring 1981. Although some of these people look familiar to me, I cannot really place anyone.  All I can say that the tenor saxophonist in the middle of the first photo (in the background) also seems to appear on a photo of Jabbo Ware’s Me, We and Them Orchestra at the Black Bean Music Studio on May 11, 1980. But the band on these photos here is definitely not Jabbo’s.

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So if any of my readers have an idea who is pictured here, I’d be glad if you let me know. Then I might probably be able to add some music to these photos.

12 Responses to “Frank Foster Big Band at the Village Vanguard 1980”

  1. I think that’s Frank Foster’s band. It looks like Bill Saxton on tenor next to the piano.

    • Michael,

      Thank you very much! I think you are right. If you compare photos of Foster from the early eighties, he is clearly the man directing the band and playing soprano in the third photo from above. Now I got a point where I can start to find out who the other persons are!

  2. davidesparti Says:

    Yes, I can also confirm Frank Foster. By the way, I just discovered and subscribed to your great blog. I am also very much into live jazz. A question though: is there any way of sharing this music? I see that with the player I can listen to one selection, but what about the rest (the other titles)? Any way of listening to that too? Or did I miss something

    • Thanks for subscribing to my blog Most of the times i did put up only one selection – just as a taste. But for example in my entry about Clarence “C” Sharpe you should be able to hear more tracks.

  3. davidesparti Says:

    Thanks for your reply, could you possibly send me an email? davide.sparti@unisi,it or (no rush)

  4. […] Crownpropeller's Blog Jump, Jazz, Jive, Vintage R'n'B « Unidentified Big Band at the Village Vanguard 1980 identified: Frank Foster […]

  5. I concur with Mr. Weiss on the tenor by the piano, its Bill Saxton…

  6. Dave Anderson Says:

    On a trip to New York in 1980 (where I attended the Ed Tiger Lewis gig posted elsewhere in this blog), I took notes on a lot of the jazz I heard there. One memorable show was the Frank Foster Loud Minority at the Village Vanguard on March 31, 1980, which was the Monday night big-band slot normally held by Mel Lewis, whose band was presumably on tour. The Loud Minority was a huge, glorious ensemble that overflowed the Vanguard’s tiny stage, out around the pillars at stage left. The tuba player was kind enough to share a table with me there, provided I hold onto my drink: they ran out of music stands, so the sheet music was spread out onto a couple of drink tables.

    Th personnel that night was Joe Gardner-Chris Albert-Bill Morris-Don McIntosh-trumpets; Bill Griffin-Janice Robinson-Charles Stephens-trombones; Bill Lowe-bass trombone; Willie J. Davis-tuba; Charles C.I. Williams-alto sax & flute; John Purcell-alto sax, clarinet & piccolo; Bill Cody-tenor sax & flute; Bill Saxton-tenor & soprano sax & flute; Frank Foster-tenor & soprano sax, conductor; Kenny Rogers-baritone sax; Mickey Tucker-piano; Victor Gaskin-acoustic bass; Keith Copeland-drums; Babafemi Akinlana (aka Al Humphries)-percussion.

    As your friend Otto was apparently in New York at this time, and the photos reflect the understandably cramped feel of a 19-piece ensemble on a stage built for a quartet, I’m reasonably certain we attended the same performance.

    I would be quite elated to have some of the recorded tracks posted here sometime. Thanks for sharing this wonderful material.

  7. […] promised in this post, I am reposting the images from the performance by Frank Foster’s “Living […]

  8. Peter Zimmerman Says:

    I think the saxophonist on the left of the top photo is Bill Saxton.

  9. I am not sure, but you may want to check the personnel on a Denon records release with “Frank Foster and the Loud Minority”, Shiny Stockings …
    Frank Foster (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Ted Dumper, Ted Dunbar (guitar); William Saxton, Charles Williams (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Leroy Barton (alto saxophone); William Cody, Doug Harris, Bill Cody, Bill Saxton (tenor saxophone); Kenny Rogers (baritone saxophone); Joe Gardner, Robert Rutledge, Robert Ruthledge, Chris Albert, Don McIntosh, Sinclair Acey, Virgil Jones (trumpet); Janice Robinson, Emmet McDonald, Kiane Zawadi, Charles Stephens (trombone); Bill Lowe (bass trombone); Bill Davis , Willie J. Davis (tuba); Mike Tucker (piano); Mary Earl (electric bass); Charlie Persip (drums); Babafume Akunyun, Roger Blank (percussion).
    November 1978. That is just a hunch.

  10. I just accidentally bumped into this blog. I noted the name Bill/William Cody on tenor sax and flute. If anyone is up on him or he himself watches this blog I’d love to hear from him. I played rather bland music in the 75th Army Band with a guy named Bill Cody. Very much a jazz man. I was transferred to a band in ‘nam and I heard he was also transferred to ‘nam maybe to the band in Saigon.

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