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Elton John finally finds Vegas jazz great Ronnie Foster

Updated July 4, 2022 - 12:03 pm

Ronnie Foster has collaborated with such greats as Stevie Wonder and George Benson. Elton J0hn is the latest musician to work with the legendary jazz organist, if only for an interview.

John caught up with Foster a couple weeks ago for John’s “Rocket Hour” radio show on Apple Music. John sought out Foster, who this year returned to Blue Note Records, the label where he began his recording career 50 years ago.

The iconic label has re-released Foster’s debut album, “Two Headed Freap, “on vinyl. The LP is part of Blue Note’s Classic Vinyl Reissue Series.

Sir Elton allowed that he is a bit late to the Foster story.

“I have to say, I am very ashamed to say, it’s only in the past two months that I’ve come across his music,” John said in introducing Foster, who checked in from the studio facilities at The Space. “Since I’ve discovered his music, I bought all of his albums. He’s an incredible musician, organ player, and an incredible singer.”

Recalling the session last week, Foster said, “It was so beautiful to talk to him. It’s so surreal, I’m still trying to get used to the fact that it happened.”

Rarely do we see Elton John so deferential as he is in the back-and-forth with Foster. The 71-year-old jazz master was featured on “Summer Soft” from Wonder’s “Songs In The Key Of Life” and also backed Benson for years, playing on Benson’s top-selling “Breezin’” album. Foster was also Human Nature’s music director at The Venetian, and (lest we forget) the intergalactic keyboardist Dlandor in “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan.

John told Foster he’s been playing Foster’s “Why Don’t You Look Inside” regularly on “Rocket Hour.”

“Yeah! We’ve played it three times already,” John said as Foster chuckled. “It’s such a great track. That rocks.”

Foster told John he picked up the piano at age 4. He hadn’t played an organ until he was in his teens and visited a friend’s house for a jam session. “There was no piano, but there was a Hammond B3. I jumped on it, and it changed my life, forever.”

John smiled and said, “I’m hopeless on the Hammond organ. It’s one of my favorite instruments… To hear it played properly is such a joy for me. Those who can play it, I give my utmost (respect) to.”

Foster plugged his latest album, “Reboot,” which features his son, Chris Foster, on drums and the cover artwork of his daughter, Kaylee Foster, also a talented singer. It is another wonderful effort from the Foster collective.

John told Foster he wants to catch the organ master live during his U.S. tour. John is back in the U.S. in July through November (though no stops in Vegas). Foster is booked in the “Jazz is Dead” at The Lodge Room in L.A. on July 31; John is in Foxboro, Mass. at that time.

But nothing is impossible, as Foster has proven with his return to Blue Note.

“I just want to catch you one day,” John said, “because you play the music I want to hear.”

Cool Hang Alert

The “Prince Again Tribute to Prince” plays The Club at the Cannery at 8 p.m. Saturday. This is Bettis Richardson’s fan-pleasing production, running though such classics as “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Diamonds and Pearls,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “1999” and more. Cost is $19.95 (not including fees), go to cannerycasino.com, or visit the hotel box office.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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