A musical heavyweight, saxophonist Alex Foster has been a part of many of the world’s most influential sounds to date. Best known in recent years for his work as the alto saxophonist in the house band of Saturday Night Live, he has also shared the stage with numerous world-class performers in varying genres. Currently a New York City resident, his accolades are not restricted to his location. For the past 10 years, Alex was a resident of Greece and has also toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia. Besides being a member of the Saturday Night Live house band, he is also the musical director of the Mingus Big Band, Orchestra, and Dynasty and is currently completing his latest album featuring all original compositions.
In the jazz scene, he has been heard on recordings and has performed alongside greats such as Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, Clark Terry, Jack DeJohnette, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Nat and Cannonball Adderley, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Gil Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, John Scofield, Charles Mingus, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones, Hank Jones, Tito Puente, Michael Brecker, Duke Ellington, Carla Bley, Ron Carter, Chico Hamilton, Teo Macero, Al Cohn, Mike Manieri, Duke Pearson, Eddie Palmieri, Victor Bailey, George Cables, Gordon Edwards, Jimmy Smith, Steve Swallows, Dave Liebman, Pete Levin, Tom Levin, Ray Baretto, Cornell Dupree, Dennis Chambers, Joe Chambers, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Cootie Williams and more. In contrast, in the pop rock music scene he has recorded and/or performed with Arethra Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Dr. John, Paul Simon, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Eddie Van Halen, Diana Ross, the Village People, Sister Sledge, Al Green, Johnny Mathis and many others. His versatility as an artist is not only present in the jazz and pop music scene, but is also prominent in the classical realm as well, performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oakland Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony and the National Symphony. He has also been heard on television shows besides Saturday Night Live such as Late Night with David Letterman and 30 Rock.
During his undergraduate years, he studied at both the San Francisco Conservatory of the Arts and the Curtis Conservatory as a classical clarinetist, but eventually pursued jazz as a saxophone player. Alex first appeared as the alto saxophonist with Chico Hamilton in the early 70s and then was playing tenor and soprano with Jack DeJohnette. He later became active in the studio music scene in the late 70s and early 80s until he began playing with Jaco Pastorius in 1982. Alex stayed with Jaco for three years until he was invited to become a member of the house band of Saturday Night Live. He’s been on the show since 1985 until present-day with a 5-year hiatus from 90-95. During this hiatus he was touring with Michael Franks, Mike Manieri’s Steps Ahead, the Mingus Big Band, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and his own band. During that time Alex recorded his first solo record, released in 1991 called “Beginnings.. Goodbye,” a duet record with Michael Wolff called “Pool of Dreams,” and arranged and performed on the Mingus Dynasty record, “Next Generation.” At this time, Alex also worked with Michael Wolff’s Impure Thoughts Band.
Speaking about his earliest influences, Alex states that he has drawn the most from Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Henry Mancini, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans. His unique voice can best be heard on his upcoming album, “Alex Foster’s Condition,” on which he is playing tenor, soprano, and alto saxophone. Accompanying him are musicians Michael Wolff on piano, Costas Baltazanis on guitar, James Genus on bass, and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums. The music on his new record can best be described as passionate, energetic and melodic. “Alex Foster’s Condition” is representative of his current desire to express his music in its most honest, uninhibited way.