Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fred Anderson, Jazz Tenor Saxophonist

Fred Anderson (March 22, 1929 – June 24, 2010) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist who was based in Chicago, Illinois. With a distinctive forward-bent playing posture, Anderson's playing was rooted in the swing music and hard bop idioms, but also incorporated innovations from free jazz, rendering him a seminal figure among Chicago musicians in the 1960s.

Anderson was born Monroe, Louisiana.  He grew up in the Southern United States and learned to play the saxophone by himself when he was a teenager. Anderson moved his family to Evanston, Illinois, in the 1940s. He studied music formally at the Roy Knapp Conservatory in Chicago, and had a private teacher for a short time. Fred worked installing carpet for decades to sustain his music and his family, before opening up a succession of important Chicago nightclubs. Despite Anderson's prominence as an avant-garde musician, his guiding inspiration was Charlie Parker, portraits of whom were prominently displayed at Anderson's club, the Velvet Lounge. 

Anderson was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and an important member of the music of the musical collective.  His partner for many years was the Chicago jazz trumpeter Billy Brimfield. 

Anderson appeared on several notable avant garde albums in the 1960s, notably the seminal Delmark recordings of saxophonist Joseph Jarman,, As If It Were The Seasons (1968), and Song For (1966), which includes Anderson's composition "Little Fox Run."

In 1983, Fred Anderson took over ownership of the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, which quickly became a center for the city's jazz and experimental music scenes. The club expanded and relocated in the summer of 2006. Before that, Anderson's eclectic Beehive bar in west Chicago was a draw where musicians from around the world drank beer and played, mostly for each other.

Though he remained an active performer, Anderson recorded rarely for about a decade beginning in the mid-1980s. By the 1990s, however, he resumed a more active recording schedule, both as a solo artist, and in collaboration with younger performers, notably drummer Hamid Drake. 

Anderson acted as mentor to young musicians who went on to prominent careers in music, either by featuring them in his groups or as performers at the Velvet Lounge.

The discography of Fred Anderson reads as follows:

  • Dark Day + Live in Verona 1979 (Atavistic, 1979) 
  • Dark Day Live at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 1979 (Message, 1979) 
  • The Missing Link (Nessa, 1979, issued 1984) 
  • Vintage Duets: Chicago, January 11, 1980 (Okkadisk, 1994) 
  • The Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1 (Atavistic, 1980) 
  • Black Horn Long Gone (Southport, 1993, issued 2009)
  • Birdhouse (Okkadisk, 1995)
  • Fred Anderson/DKV Trio (Okkadisk, 1997) 
  • Fred: Chicago Chamber Music (Southport, 1997) 
  • Live at the Velvet Lounge (Okkadisk, 1998) 
  • Fred Anderson Quartet, Volume One (Asian Improv Records, 1999)
  • Fred Anderson Quartet, Volume Two (Asian Improv Records, 2000)
  • On the Run, Live at the Velvet Lounge (Delmark, 2000) 
  • Duets 2001: Live at the Empty Bottle (Thrill Jockey, 2001)
  • Back at the Velvet Lounge (Delmark, 2002)
  • Back Together Again (Thrill Jockey, 2004) 
  • Blue Winter (Eremite, 2004) 
  • From The River To The Ocean (Thrill Jockey, 2007) 
  • Fred Anderson Quartet, Volume Three (Asian Improv Records, 2008)
  • Staying in the Game (Engine Studios, 2009)
  • 21st Century Chase: 80th Birthday Bash, Live at the Velvet Lounge (Delmark, 2009) 

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