Reports are coming in that Frank Foster, saxophonist for the Count Basie Orchestra, passed away this morning.
Update: AP has an obit online via The Seattle Times:
Frank Foster, a jazz saxophonist who played with the Count Basie Orchestra and composed the band’s hit, “Shiny Stockings,” died Tuesday. He was 82.
Foster died Tuesday morning at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia, of complications from kidney failure, according to Cecilia Foster, his wife of 45 years.
Foster was recognized in 2002 by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master, the nation’s highest jazz honor . In a statement expressing sadness at Foster’s death, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman called him “an extraordinary saxophonist, composer, arranger, bandleader, and educator.”
Landesman added, “We join many others in the jazz community and beyond in mourning his death while celebrating his life.”
According to the NEA, Foster’s many compositions included material for singers Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra, and a commissioned piece written for jazz orchestra for the 1980 Winter Olympics: “Lake Placid Suite.”
Foster was a native of Cincinnati. He told NEA interviewer Don Ball in 2008 that he “had an ear for music” from an early age. He said his mother took him to hear opera when he was just 6.
Jazz big bands caught his attention when he was 12. Foster’s first instrument was clarinet, but at age 13 he took up the sax. Foster told the interviewer he played in a dance band at Wilberforce University and went on to join Basie’s band in 1953.