Growing up on Long Island, Frank began playing trumpet and was a neighbor of pianist Art Hodes. When he was 23 he began doubling on bass but played trumpet professionally in North Carolina in a band led by Bert Massengale. When Frank later rejoined the band there was no vacancy for a trumpet player so he played bass instead.
He continued to advance his bass playing, studying with Michael Moore. In the late 60s Frank was briefly outside music but in late 1972 he was leader of the house band at Blues Alley in his home-town. A few years later he was working in the Cape Cod area, playing in bands led by Bobby Hackett and Dave McKenna, then he joined Marian McPartland and in the early 80s was with Zoot Sims. He helped organize the Dave McKenna- Scott Hamilton band and also toured with singer Pearl Bailey.
In the mid-80s he was with the Howard Alden - Dan Barrett Quintet and in the early 90s played with Ruby Braff. A strong player with a fine sense of swing, Tate has always been a great asset to the rhythm section of any band in which he has played. His understanding of the needs of front-line players is perhaps strengthened through his early experience as a trumpet player.