Fred Foss - In Memoriam

Fred H. Foss was a talented musician who had a passion for social justice. Fred utilized his musical abilities to touch audiences through his "screaming" saxophone, melodious flute, or searing clarinet. Fred studied with Rene McLean, who is the son of legendary saxophonist Jackie McLean. Within a year of taking lessons, Fred was playing in Rhythm & Blues Bands, which soon led to professional performances with Tito Puente and a four-year gig with the big-band leader Lionel Hampton.

After four years with Lionel Hampton, Fred moved to Washington D.C. and began teaching in the public school system. Additional responsibilities included the mentoring of some of the finest jazz 'Young Lions' in the Washington D.C. area: Drummer Kush Abadey, saxophonist Greg Osby, and bassist Clarence Seay. While still playing professionally with artists as South African pianist Dollar Brand (a.k.a. Abdullah Ibrahim) and trumpeter Hugh Masakela, Fred established the Fred Foss Youth Orchestra. Members of Fred's youth orchestra included the winner of the Thelonious Monk International Competition (2009), Ben Williams, the Jolley Brothers, Janel Gill, Eric Wheeler, and bassist for Roy Hargrove, Ameen Salim. A highlight of their involvement in the Fred Foss Youth Orchestra was a trip to Cuba to perform in the Havana Jazz Festival. Fred continued to play professionally, record, and produce Soundtracks for radio and films.

Fred Foss was the Musical Director of the Nyumburu Jazz Club for two years, 2016 - 2017 and 2018 - 2019. Fred transistioned into ancestorship on April 22nd 2019. The Nyumburu Cultural Center, students, staff, faculty, and the community will miss this great musician, friend, and mentor of many.