A tenor-saxophonist whose huge tone (a throwback to the great players of the 1950s, including Gene Ammons, Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins) contrasts with his very adventurous style, Fred Anderson has been a true original throughout his career. Born in Monroe, Louisiana in 1929, Anderson freelanced in a variety of settings before moving to Chicago. A founding member of the Association for the Advancement Of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the mid-1960s, he was inspired by the examples of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane to stretch himself and find his own voice. Although Anderson recorded on a pair of Joseph Jarman albums during 1966 and 1968 and he led obscure recording sessions for Moers and Nessa (1979’s The Missing Link) during 1978-79, it was not until 1995 when he was in his mid-sixties before Anderson began recording on a fairly regular basis. However, he was well known around Chicago and Europe years before that. Anderson ran the club the Birdhouse in the late 1970s and took over the running of the Velvet Lounge in 1982, leading legendary and influential Sunday jam sessions for decades. Anderson visited Europe for two tours during 1977-78 but was absent from records for a long period before the birth of the Okka Disk label in the mid-1990s. Since then he has recorded for Okka Disk, Thrill Jockey, Southport, Asian Improv, Eremite and Delmark, while Okka Disk has come out with previously unreleased sessions from 1979-80. Among Anderson’s most significant associates have been drummer Hamid Drake, pianist Marilyn Crispell and fellow saxophonist Kidd Jordan. An unsung giant, Fred Anderson has finally been receiving long overdue recognition during the past decade.
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