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Pops Foster

George Murphy "Pops" Foster (May 19, 1892 – October 29, 1969) was a jazz musician best known for his vigorous slap bass playing of the string bass. He also played the tuba and trumpet professionally.

Foster was born to Charley and Annie Foster, who "was nearly fullblooded Cherokee," on a plantation near McCall in Ascension Parish near Donaldsonville in south Louisiana. His family moved to New Orleans when he was about 10 years of age. His older brother, Willard Foster, began playing banjo and guitar; George started out on a cello then switched to string bass. Foster married twice: to Bertha Foster in 1912 and Alma Foster in 1936. Pops Foster was playing professionally by 1907 and worked with Jack Carey, Kid Ory, Armand Piron, King Oliver and other prominent hot bands of the era.

In 1921 he moved to St. Louis to play with the Charlie Creath and Dewey Jackson bands, in which he would be active for much of the decade. He also joined Ory in Los Angeles. He acquired the nickname "Pops" because he was far older than any of the other players in the band.

In 1929 Foster moved to New York City, where he played with the bands of Luis Russell and Louis Armstrong through 1940. He gigged with various New York-based bands through the 1940s, including those of Sidney Bechet, Art Hodes, and regular broadcasts on the national This Is Jazz radio program. He also recorded for the Mezzrow-Bechet Quintet (Bechet, Mezz Mezzrow, Fitz Weston, and Kaiser Marshall) and Septet (on two consecutive dates in 1945, with Hot Lips Page (as Pappa Snow White), Sammy Price (as Jimmy Blythe Jr.), Danny Barker and Sid Catlett, and on the second session with Pleasant Joe on vocals).

In the late 1940s he began touring more widely and played in many countries in Europe, especially in France, and throughout the United States including returns to New Orleans and California.

In 1952, Foster toured Europe with Jimmy Archey's Band. He played regularly at Central Plaza in New York and briefly in New Orleans with Papa Celestin in 1954.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he played with Earl Hines' Small Band. In 1966, he toured Europe with the New Orleans All-Stars but remained based in San Francisco, where he died.

The Autobiography of Pops Foster was published in 1971, with a new edition in 2005. Foster is quoted, "Some of the books are fouled up on" the times in New Orleans", "and some of the guys weren't telling the truth." "The critics and guys who write about jazz think they know more about what went on in New Orleans than the guys that were there."

Birth and Death Data: Born May 19th, 1892 (Ascension Parish), Died October 30th, 1969 (San Francisco)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1929 - 1956

Roles Represented in DAHR: string bass, tuba, composer

Notes: Also listed in Victor ledgers by given name, George Foster.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 161 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-50518 10-in. 2/23/1929 Never had a reason to believe in you The Mystery Orchestra [i.e., Mound City Blue Blowers] Instrumental ensemble composer  
Victor BVE-53929 10-in. 7/17/1929 Feeling drowsy Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-53930 10-in. 7/17/1929 Swing out Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-55133 10-in. 7/16/1929 It should be you Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-55134 10-in. 7/16/1929 Biff'ly blues Henry Allen and his New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-55852 10-in. 9/24/1929 Make a country bird fly wild Henry Allen ; Four Wanderers ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal quartet instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-55853 10-in. 9/24/1929 Funny feathers blues Henry Allen and his New York Orchestra ; Victoria Spivey Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-55854 10-in. 9/24/1929 How do they do it that way Henry Allen and his New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-55855 10-in. 9/24/1929 Pleasing Paul Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-56151 10-in. 9/25/1929 Tailspin blues Mound City Blue Blowers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal chorus instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-56152 10-in. 9/25/1929 Never had a reason to believe in you Mound City Blue Blowers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-56732 10-in. 10/1/1929 Blood hound blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-56733 10-in. 10/1/1929 Dirty T. B. blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-56734 10-in. 10/1/1929 Moaning the blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-56735 10-in. 10/1/1929 Telephoning the blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, tuba  
Victor BVE-57080 10-in. 11/13/1929 Sweet Peter Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57081 10-in. 11/13/1929 Jersey Joe Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57082 10-in. 11/13/1929 Mississippi Mildred Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57083 10-in. 11/13/1929 Mint julep Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57145 10-in. 11/14/1929 Hello Lola Mound City Blue Blowers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57146 10-in. 11/14/1929 One hour Mound City Blue Blowers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57565 10-in. 12/2/1929 You oughta see my gal Wilton Crawley Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57566 10-in. 12/2/1929 Futuristic blues Wilton Crawley Clarinet soloist, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57567 10-in. 12/2/1929 Keep your business to yourself Wilton Crawley Clarinet soloist, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-57568 10-in. 12/2/1929 She's got what I need Wilton Crawley Clarinet soloist, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
(Results 1-25 of 161 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Foster, Pops," accessed March 6, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/107076.

Foster, Pops. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 6, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/107076.

"Foster, Pops." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 6 March 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/107076

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