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Fred Anderson: FRED Chicago Chamber Music

One of the annual treats of the Chicago Jazz Festival is the late night after-fest opportunity to travel south to a neighborhood bar for a free expression dessert. The brain food is served up by stalwart tenor man Fred Anderson and assorted assemblages, and the venue is Fred’s own “Velvet Lounge.” From someone who has impacted his particular slice of jazz for several decades, helping to found the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, that’s scant opportunity unless you live in Chicago. For those that don’t, recorded evidence of this man’s considerable prowess is very limited. Hopefully this two-disc set will help close that gap somewhat.

Anderson, a husky, compact and powerful man, plays a tenor befitting that stature. He plays it straight from the solar plexus with a deep, dry rumble and boundless capacity that is indeed formidable. Bent over forward, the music seems to take his body to unknown tributaries, tenor nearly sweeping the floor at times as he becomes enraptured by the expressive moment. Such is the imagery one carries into this recording, disc one with the versatile traps of Afifi Phillard and the impossibly bottomless, throbbing bass of Tatsu Aoki. Disc two is largely an Anderson-Aoki affair, with producer Bradley Parker-Sparrow joining in on piano for two tracks. Befitting Anderson’s spontaneous expressions, the pieces here are credited to the collective whole. As for the state of the tenor, Fred Anderson is an original who is not to be missed.

Originally Published