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Sunday, March 29, 2015

What's Next? - Foster Edwards' Orch.

Mona Y Coleta
What's Next?
Foster Edwards' Orchestra
Rondo Records LPM IN-100
Recording Session: September 15, October 1, 10, 1964

Music composed, orchestrated, arranged and conducted by Foster S. Edwards I
Produced and directed by Foster S. Edwards I
Album design, layout and editing by J. J. Edwards
Photography by Bob Fairer

Saxophones: John Peirce, Dick Mordenti, Babe Moore, Gordon Anderen and Orvie Fleming
Trumpets: Dickie Mills, John Chech, Buzzy Mills and George Graham
Trombones: Roger White, Hub Houtz and Gene Isaeff
Piano: Mario Talucci
Bass: Frank Exposito
Drums: Russ Patrick

Book-fold designed jacket feature inside pages.

The cover: Bertha and Tina, the Circus Room elephants, and their trainer Jenda Smaha were photographed through the courtesy of John Ascuga's Sparks Nugget, East Reno, Nevada. Photo by Bob Fairer.

From the inside copy: As one can see, The Sparks Nugget has spared no cost in the sound equipment it uses in the Circus Room. All of the acts who have entertained in John Ascuaga's theater-restaurant agree that the Circus Room has the best sound equipment of all the clubs, showrooms, theaters, and lounges they have played. Not only does the Nugget have the best sound equipment, but it has the best electronics engineer to operate it.

Referring to the sample above: Mona Y Coleta - This is a jazz suite, portraying the Spanish matador. The hairpiece worn by the professional matador is referred to as the "coleta." Mona Y Coleta is written in several movements, all of which depict the different moods that a bull fighter experiences on those Sunday afternoons. Rather than explain what the different moods of the music mean to me, I would prefer to have you use your own imagination and create your own image.

My inspiration for writing this suite was my daughter, Cheri, who is very fond of the Spanish mode of music. In 1962 Cheri was severely injured in a tragic accident that nearly took her life. During the five weeks that she was unconscious, I decided that if she were ever regain consciousness I would orchestrate Mona Y Coleta so she might hear it as a tribute to her. She lived, and Mona Y Coleta was born. To you, Cheri, I dedicate Mona Y Coleta.

Also from the inside, how Foster ended up at The Nugget: In 1961 it was announced that The Sparks Nugget was going to build a show room. After continuously "buggin'" Carl Ravazza and Lee Frankovich at the Nevada Entertainment Agency (they were the booking agents for the room; Carl is still the booking agent, but Lee Frankovich has been the General Manager of The Sparks Nugget since the Fall of 1962), Foster was finally asked to have lunch with John Ascuaga to discuss the orchestra at the Nugget. "After a very nice and relaxing luncheon," Foster recalls, "John Ascuaga asked me but one question, 'Can you play elephant music?" Foster answered that he had "played for dogs, chimpanzees, monkeys, and ponies. I don't see why I can't play for elephants."

In June of 1962 Foster took his orchestra into The Nugget Circus Room and has been pleasing the people and the acts ever since. It might be interesting to note that Bertha and Tina, the Circus Room elephants, are the only elephants in the world that have their own conductor, composer, and arranger. So you see, not only the acts and the audiences pleased, so are the elephants!


  1. Thanks Mark for the song and also for the transcripted notes. Always nice to have some background info on the song(s)

  2. Foster Edwards was my father . I am Foster Edwards II . Really appreciate you putting this up for people to see . My dad was an amazing person and one of the best people I have ever known . He wrote arranged conducted and could play 21 instruments professionally . Got to grow up around cool people like Pearl Bailey , Andrew sisters , Mills brothers and so on . The entertainers back then were not so full of themselves like they are these days . Those people like my father were great but humble . Thanks again for putting this up .

    1. Foster, I met your Foster Sr on one occasion. I had played Trombone in the Nugget Orchestra under leader Don Conn in the late '70s. Several of the guys on the record were still playing there - Roger, Babe, Orvie (viola), John Pierce. I later played with others, but in other Reno/Tahoe area house bands until 1988 (Gene, Gordie, Dickie, George, John Chech.) I somehow had acquired a copy of this album. Many years later I was flying at the radio control airplane club in Hungry Valley, and an older man was watching the activity. He looked familiar, as if I knew him. Then a memory clicked, so I approached him and asked "Excuse me, but would your name be Foster Edwards?" He was taken aback, but politely said yes, and should he know me. I explained who and what I was, and that I recognized him from the album cover. As you can imagine, we were very pleased and had a nice chat out there in the desert. He said he was living down south somewhere, and was in Reno visiting friends or family. I told him that Roger White (who told me stories about Foster) would be tickled to see him, and gave him Roger's phone number. Roger told me they had a very nice reunion. I never met your father again, and most of the musicians I mentioned are now deceased. I'm glad you commented here, and hope you enjoyed my anecdote about your father.

      Brian Adams


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