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Manhattan Fever (1968)

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Buster Williams

Frank Foster has been largely defined in jazz circles by his long association with Count Basie (Foster was with Basie from 1953 until 1964 and led the orchestra for nine years following Basie's death), but the tenor saxophonist, composer, and arranger led his own recording session as early as 1954 when he cut a 10" LP for Alfred Lion's Blue Note Records. He returned to Blue Note in 1968 and recorded Manhattan Fever, and material for yet another album was cut at a session held later in 1969. Manhattan Fever had disappointing sales, however, and the 1969 sides ended up not being released as planned. This CD reissue adds some of that 1969 material to the original Manhattan Fever track listing, and it makes for a much stronger and more varied set. Highlights include the lovely "Loneliness" from the original LP and the starkly beautiful ballad "The House That Love Built," and a wonderfully wobbling and woozy version of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Fly by Night" from the 1969 sessions. Foster's compositional (he wrote all but three of the eleven selections here) and arranging talents are at center stage, but when he steps out front as a soloist like he does on "The House That Love Built," he shows why he is a top line tenor sax player. ~ Steve Leggett