Frank Foster wrote “Shiny Stockings” when he was in Count Basie’s “New Testament” band of the mid-1950s. He gained fame as half of Basie’s “Two Franks” tenor saxophone tandem with Frank Wess. The piece became a staple of not only the Basie band but of big jazz bands around the world. There is hardly a high school or college stage band that doesn’t have “Shiny Stockings” in its book. An experienced musician before he joined Basie, Foster went on to earn widespread admiration as a player, composer, arranger, educator andfor a timeleader of the Basie band following Basie’s death in 1984. He also led his own big bands, the Loud Minority and the Living Color Band.
At 82, Foster is recovering from a stroke and fighting diabetes. To help with medical expenses, there will be a benefit for him this weekend not far from his home in Chesapeake, Virginia. Bill Lohman writes about it in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
One would think Foster would be a rich man, based on just that one song, but that is not the case. Foster had never received his full due for “Shiny Stockings,” which he wrote in 1955, or other songs he had written or arranged because of contracts that took advantage of his primary interest being in music, not business.
To read all of Lohman’s column, go here.
It is unlikely that anyone who ever heard the Basie recording of “Shiny Stockings” has forgotten how it goes, but just in case, here it is with Foster soloing on tenor and a picture of Basie.
Among dozens of videos featuring “Shiny Stockings,” the Rifftides staff could find no trace of film or tape of the piece when Foster was on the Basie Band. If you know of one, let us know.