Big Apple jazz fans are in for a treat when the acclaimed Delaware-based saxophonist/singer Fostina Dixon appears at the historic Bogardus Mansion with her all-star band, Winds of Change.
A shining star of the New York jazz scene of the ’80s and ’90s, Fostina made a name for herself fronting her own bands on baritone, alto and soprano saxophones, as well as on flute and clarinet. The talented and versatile Saxophone Queen also demonstrated her prodigious skills backing masters such as Abbey Lincoln, Gerald Wilson, Melba Liston, Frank Foster, and Gil Evans.
Equally at home with jazz, R&B, pop, funk, and gospel, Fostina toured with Marvin Gaye for four years. She hired the youthful Ricky Minor to play bass in her band Collage, long before he became bandleader of in 2010. And she played and raised her voice in song with James Blood Ulmer, Roy Ayers, and funky trumpeter Tom Browne. Prince was so impressed with a video of Fostina performing “Purple Rain” on alto sax at the famous Apollo Theater that he brought her to Minneapolis to play with him.
With the exposure came acclaim. In the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award-winning book American Women in Jazz: 1900 to the Present, author Sally Placksin described Fostina as “a player of impeccable control and skills with…highly independent ideas.” The saxophonist was judged “a true original” by D. Antoinette Hardy in her book Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras. Fostina received an Excellence in Jazz Performance award from Berklee College of Music, and a Eubie Blake “Emerging Artist” award presented by Dr. Billy Taylor, among other honors.
While maintaining a busy playing and touring schedule, Fostina earned a Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts, and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Wilmington University. She switched her focus from the stage to the classroom when she returned to her Delaware roots.
Just as she garne red critical acclaim and numerous honors for her composing and playing, the kudos didn’t stop when Fostina made the move to teaching. To cite just a few examples of the recognition she’s earned, Fostina has received a Christi Award for her contributions to promoting the arts in the community, an Outstanding Arts Educator award from the Board of Education, and an Outstanding Contributor award from the Council of Jazz Advocates.
Fostina also received grants for a student ensemble, the Wilmington Youth Jazz Band, which she founded to provide instruction and performing experience to students in grades 4 through 12, who are interested in jazz.
After almost two decades as an educator and advocate, Fostina is back in the spotlight. “I am now devoting most of my time to playing and performing, and am celebrating that part of my life with this special event at the Bogardus Mansion,” she says.
At the upcoming gig, listeners can look forward to hearing Fostina present a mix of jazz standards, her own brilliant arrangements of tunes by Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus, and songs by her friend Abbey Lincoln. Count on Fostina to add in some of her originals, such as a tune or two from her recently released CD, Here We Go Again, which includes a tribute she penned honoring Marvin Gaye, “Prayer of Jabez.”
Fostina Dixon’s Winds of Change includes:
Drummer Ronnie Burrage is among the most recorded drummers in the history of jazz. He has performed with Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Frank Morgan, Wallace Roney, and a host of other jazz icons. Besides being an in-demand drummer, Ronnie is also an acclaimed composer, producer, educator, and filmmaker.
Bassist Lonnie Plaxico has shared the stage and recording studio with countless giants of jazz such as Art Blakey, Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Alice Coltrane, Cassandra Wilson, Jack DeJohnette, Woody Shaw, and others. Lonnie has also released several CDs as a leader, appeared on movie soundtracks, and TV shows.
Pianist Donald Smith, a veteran of the New York jazz scene, has played with legends including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Leon Thomas, Pharoah Sanders, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band. He also established a reputation as a singer and flautist during five years of touring with organist Lonnie Liston Smith. Donald displays his versatility on the keyboards as a regular at St. Nick’s Jazz Pub in Harlem.
Fostina shares a long history with each of the players and is looking forward to the musical magic they’re sure to cook up together during this all-too-rare NYC gig.