by Jamal Baptiste, Black Grooves
Trumpeter and composer Kenyatta Beasley’s tribute album, Frank Foster Songbook, celebrates his late mentor, the noted tenor and soprano saxophonist, composer and arranger Frank Benjamin Foster III. Recorded live over the course of two evenings at Brooklyn’s Jazz 966 club in 2013, this two-disc album captures the dynamic musical interactions between Beasley and his ensemble with guest appearances by Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Mark Whitfield (guitar), Carla Cook (vocals), and Eric Wyatt (tenor saxophone). Beasley includes eleven songs covering a wide range of Foster’s original compositions.
The album begins with “Hip Shakin’,” a spirited blues-fueled rendition followed by the profound performance of “Simone” featuring the alluring vocal stylings of Cook. Beasley performs Foster’s energetic samba- and bossa nova-oriented compositions “Cidade Alta” and “Chiquito Loco,” before transitioning into the uptempo “Viva Terrassa” and the foot-stomping rendering of “Skull Duggery.” Also included are the songs “Manhattan Fever” and “Grey Thursday,” plus Beasley’s brilliant interpretation of “Katherine the Great,” which also features a soulful and heartfelt solo by Marsalis.
The Kenyatta Beasley Septet’s Frank Foster Songbook is certainly an outstanding homage to the legacy of the great Frank Foster, with excellent arrangements of his original compositions for small ensemble.