California State University, Fullerton

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Gary Foster, Instructor in Music

kye palmerGary Foster has played woodwinds for nearly 200 motion picture soundtracks, numerous television scores, and studio recordings with artists like Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole and Barbra Streisand. Yet Foster is a true Leavenworth Kansan, living in the bustle of Los Angeles, California. His early musicianship was forged at age 15 – playing Leavenworth VFW Hall dances with musical mentor Harold Stanford. “If they didn’t dance, you weren’t doing your job,” says Foster. Later, at Kansas University, he refined his skills and earned degrees in music education, performance, and musicology. He could play or teach - time to decide. “I decided to take the jump. Once you put yourself on the street you use everything you know every day,”
says Foster. Thirty years of performing later, Foster is grateful for the big-name work. But most grateful for what it lets him do. “My dream gig? Playing sax with a piano/bass/drum trio in a jazz concert. Not enough to pay the bills, but a lot of fun,” says Foster. Foster also holds a special regard for jazz improvisation. Musicians play a standard composition, then improvise on the form, harmony and mood – feeding each other’s creativity. “It is most satisfying to the player when it is spontaneous, intuitively played and different from anything he might have played before,” says Foster. “In the arts there’s huge momentum and opportunity for interchange,” says Foster, citing singer Diana Krall as an example. “She took lessons from a man I knew and respected. I watched her go from a good singer and talented pianist to an international star. It’s really exciting.”