Al Foster (born January 18, 1943) is an American jazz drummer. Foster played with Miles Davis during the 1970s, and was one of the few people to have contact with Davis during his retirement from 1975–1981. Foster also played on Davis's 1981 comeback album The Man with the Horn in 1981. He was the only musician to play in Davis's band both before and after his retirement.
Foster has toured extensively with Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, and Joe Henderson. He is a versatile drummer who has played in musical styles ranging from bebop to free form to jazz/rock.
Foster was born in Richmond, Virginia, and grew up in New York. He began playing drums at the age of 13 and made his recording debut with Blue Mitchell at 21.
He joined Miles Davis's group when Jack DeJohnette left in 1972, and played with Davis until 1985. In his 1989 autobiography, Davis described the first time he heard Foster play live in 1972 at the Cellar Club in Manhattan: "He [Foster] knocked me out because he had such a groove and he would just lay it right in there. That was the kind of thing I was looking for. Al could set it up for everybody else to play-off and just keep the groove going forever."
Foster began composing in the 1970s, and has been touring with his own band, including musicians such as bassist Doug Weiss, saxophonist Dayna Stephens, and pianist Adam Birnbaum.
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