Sunday, June 27, 2010

Celebrating The Life Of Fred Anderson

Fred Anderson (sax, b. 1929 - d. 2010)

Fred Anderson, considered the father of the Chicago Free Jazz Movement, passed away this past Thursday. His influenced could be felt throughout not only Chicago jazz but also European jazz. He was a co-founder of AACM (the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music) in Chicago. Anderson while a late contemporary of fellow saxophone free jazz legends, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp--never really reach to popular heights those artist did. That is until the last decade or so of his life.

I really did start getting into Fred Anderson until 1997 when I picked up a used copy of Fred Anderson and The DKV Trio (Okka Disk). The DKV trio was a side project of Ken Vandermark (sax), Hamid Drake (percussion) and Kent Kessler (bass). It was mesmerizing recording that forced me to seek out more music from Fred Anderson. At the time his material was extremely hard to find. If you were living in Chicago you probably didn't know about Fred Anderson let alone could find a record by him.

Fred Anderson also ran his own jazz club in Chicago called the Velvet Lounge. He recorded a large majority of his latter releases there. And live was probably the best way to hear him. The club was forced to shut down in 2005 but reopen with the help of fellow Chicago jazz musician in a new location and has thrived ever since.

Anderson's playing and vision was direct and powerful. He possessed a full body way of performing that was reminiscent of the aforementioned legends but he too would carve out a distinct path that made each of his record their own. In addition to the DKV Trio, Anderson also worked with Marilyn Crispell (piano), William Parker (bass), Kidd Jordan (sax).

I never got the opportunity to see Fred Anderson perform live. He played the renowned Vision Festival in NYC numerous times. Like an idiot I always felt my favourite artists would live forever, so there would be plenty opportunities to see him. How wrong I was. But Anderson leaves a wealth of music for new fans to dive into. Whether you're into free jazz or not you need to at least experience a Fred Anderson record to understand what a legend he has become and will forever be.

If you decide to pick up any of Fred Anderson's music, I highly recommend you go to order from Downtown Music Gallery (in NYC) or Dusty Groove (in Chicago). They both have the best selection of Fred Anderson material.

My essential Fred Anderson recordings:
Dark Day (Atavistic Records reissue from 1979)
Fred Anderson/DKV Trio (Okka Disk; 1997)
2 Days In April (Eremite; 1999)
Back At The Velvet Lounge (Delmark; 2002)
Timeless (Delmark; 2005)
Live At The Velvet Lounge 2007 (Estrad Poznanska)

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