Frank Foster ‘The Loud Minority’ RSD LP (WeWantSounds) 4/5

Following the 1968 ‘Manhattan Fever’ album for Blue Note, Frank Foster recorded what was to become one of his most memorable albums, and one that struck a chord at the time with the more politicized Afrocentric fashion conscious around Harlem, spreading across the States. ‘The Loud Minority’ has since become a cult classic and a firm favourite for many generations who have ventured more towards the spiritual soul-jazz idiom.

Released in 1972 on Mainstream Records, ‘Loud Minority’, shows the Big band schoolings of Frank Foster’s time alongside Count Basie coupled with the deeper soul jazz spirit that surrounded the post-civil rights era and his accumulated experiences. His first large ensemble recording features a stellar line up of musicians who were in the vanguard of the freedom principle that embraced new technology and expression without the constraints of earlier years. Frank Foster was 44 years old when he recorded this iconic jazz album and it has since been considered as one of the quintessential spiritual soul-jazz albums from that period. In the 1990s the album was rediscovered through the new wave of DJ/artists such as DJ Shadow, Greyboy, Jazzanova and United Future Organization.

American tenor and soprano saxophonist, flautist, arranger, bandleader and composer Frank Foster is a veteran figure whose prolific contribution to Jazz became more visible around 1954, appearing in Count Basie’s band before collaborating with some of the greatest jazz musicians over the course of his career which spanned over 50 years. He was an integral part of Count Basie’s legendary big band, writing many of the compositions as well as playing. He became the leader of Count Basie’s Big Band in 1986 taking the mantle from Thad Jones. Amongst countless other awards including two Grammys, Frank Foster was awarded the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2002, the highest honour in jazz. He became a great supporter of The Jazz Foundation of America and other humanitarian causes and was a prolific musician and composer who was often seen as a self-effacing genius.

Airto Moreira, Elvin Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stanley Clarke, Harold Mabern and Cecil Bridgewater feature alongside a stellar line-up of 16 musicians, bringing the leaders four compositions to life. The album opens with the 14-minute title track that immediately captures one’s attention. The scene is built around legendary vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater who starts the composition with a statement of intent for justice, liberation and freedom, espousing the important rhetoric before the ensemble enters with a reflective soulful jazz groove that is both expressive and restrained. Dee Dee Bridgewater completes the composition with the message for the silent majority.

As well as the title track, ‘Requiem For Dusty’, ‘J.P’s Thing’ and ‘E.W-Beautiful People’ add different slants that fit alongside the message within the music. There are elements of funk, soulful jazz and fusion all wrapped in a large ensemble sound with a conscious feel and an adventurous outward bound spirit.

The ‘Loud Minority’ is another more than welcome archive revival and a great choice from the French reissue label WEWANTSOUNDS with a 20-page booklet featuring never-seen photos and interview by Dee Dee and Cecil Bridgewater. Gatefold Record Store Day release scheduled for the 12th June event.

Mark Jones