Louisiana-born tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson (1929) became a staple and a pillar of Chicago's creative scene despite being a bop musician at heart.
He co-founded the AACM and played on Joseph Jarman's pioneering Song For (1966). It took him twelve years, though, to emerge as a powerful voice of the avantgarde. The fact is that he always seemed to belong to another generation.
He was a player influenced by Sonny Rollins and, more importantly,
a composer of the same vein as Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus.
His early recordings focused on that relatively structured aspect of his art,
therefore downplaying the radical improvisation of "creative" musicians.
The live Another Place (may 1978), by a quintet with trombonist Lewis, trumpeter Bill Brimfield and young percussionist Hank "Hamid" Drake, contained
the 23-minute Another Place, the twelve-minute Saxoon and the ten-minute The Bull.
The live Dark Day (may 1979), in a quartet with Drake and Brimfield and
without Lewis, debuted
the 18-minute Dark Day and the 18-minute Three On Two.
Yet another live recording,
More compositions for quartet were recorded in those years, but would be
released only much later:
the 16-minute Twilight, on The Missing Link (september 1979),
the 17-minute A Ballad For Rita, on
The Milwaukee Tapes (january 1980),
In 1982 Fred Anderson opened the "Velvet Lounge" that soon became the epicenter
of Chicago's creative scene. For more than a decade very little was documented
of his sessions.
A quartet with pianist Jim Baker, bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Hamid Drake was finally documented on Birdhouse (february 1995), its highlights
being, again, Anderson's compositions:
the swinging 18-minute Birdhouse (a showcase of group interplay and solos),
the bluesy 16-minute Bernice,
the 15-minute bop excursion Like Sonny and
the 14-minute saxophone-drums duet Waiting for Mc.
Chicago Chamber Music (may 1996), for a
trio with bassist Tatsu Aoki and percussionist Afifi Phillard,
was more openly free jazz (the 20-minute Grizzle and the 14-minute Afro Asia).
Black Horn Long Gone (january 1993) features Malachi Favors on bass and Ajaramu (AJ Shelton) ) on drums.
Staying in the Game (november 2008) featured
Harrison Bankhead (acoustic bass) and Tim Daisy (drums).
21st Century Chase (march 2009), featuring Kidd Jordan (on second tenor sax), Jeff Parker (guitar), Harrison Bankhead (bass and cello), Henry Grimes (bass) and Chad Taylor (drums),
three tracks for a total of 70 minutes.
The Great Vision Concert
documents a live duet between
Fred Anderson and bassist Harrison Bankhead.
Quintessential Birthday Trio - Vol. II (december 2009)
featured Tatsu Aoki on bass and Chad Taylor on drums.
Fred Anderson died
in 2010 at 81.
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