Thursday, April 10, 2014


Young drummer and post-graduate student Jon Foster has put on a stellar recital performance that married the elements of both the traditional and the modern into a unique, sophisticated voice.  

Employing a sextet using the talents of guitarist Mike McCormick, bassist Connor Walsh, pianist Andrew Slade, trumpeter David Baldry and vocalist Laura Swankey, they explore choice standards, modern jazz, original compositions, and a tune from the popular alternative band Radiohead.   

To get things rolling, Jon and his group go through a very swinging reading of a classic romantic standard, “No Moon At All”.   It was a very spirited romp that swung easily, Jon’s drumming was very light to the touch and not heavy at all, and in addition to melodic solos by David Baldry and Andrew Slade, Jon’s drumming techniques throughout the piece was both colorful and complimented the music effectively.  

The most interesting piece would have to be the group’s take on Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android”, which fused classical elements along with a hard driving groove in 7/4 that pushed the music beyond the limits and into sheer rhythmic and melodic overdrive.   

After the modern detour, it is back to standard repertoire through a groovy, exotic Latin reading of Juan Tizol’s “Caravan”.   This piece started off with great introductory interplay among the piano, bass and drums and climaxed with a tasteful drum solo by Jon that again showed creativity, texture and colour into his drum techniques.

In addition to being a colourful and tasteful drummer, Jon also showed his skills as a very lyrical composer.   On “Soleil De La Mer”, it showed off a picturesque beauty of a lakeside sunset, complimented with a spiritually moving solo by guitarist Mike McCormick.   After a brief improvised piece on the drums featuring the use of tom-tom sticks, he goes right into his own “San Francisco”, employing a 12/8 Latin feel with classical elements thrown in for exotic texture and complexity.    

Laura Swankey, whom I had the pleasure of reviewing recently, provides great vocal readings on “Speak Low” and “From This Moment On”.   Her voice carried a lot of depth and meaning, and her scatting is very musical and uses a whole wide array of syllable choices to make it sound hip and interesting.    No wonder musicians love to work with her, for she is truly a “musician’s singer”.  

Upon attending this recital, I wish nothing more but the best for Jon Foster as he pursues and grows further as a well grounded drummer and composer in the world of jazz and beyond for many years to come.  


(Jon Foster.  Photo by Alexander Ordanis)

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