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Fred Anderson: 21st Century Chase

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The prototype here is “The Chase,” the 1947 Dexter Gordon/Wardell Gray workout that virtually defined “tenor battle” for succeeding generations. But this set, recorded at Chicago’s Velvet Lounge during Fred Anderson’s 80th birthday celebration, recasts that concept: No longer do the frontmen dominate at the expense of their bandmates, and the spirit is closer to the symmetry of the dance, spiced by vigorous call-and-response dialogue, than mock combat.

Anderson states a theme then expands it into outwardly spiraling circles until it has been thoroughly recast. He’ll then segue into a fresh variant and repeat the process, not stopping until every possible iteration and perspective has been explored. His tonal force is nothing short of awe-inspiring; he sometimes sounds as if he’s pulling those circles taut by main strength, only to release them to furl back together under their own power.

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Originally Published

David Whiteis

David Whiteis is a critic, journalist, and author based in Chicago. He is the recipient of the Blues Foundation’s 2001 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Achievement in Journalism. His books include Southern Soul-Blues (U. of Illinois Press, 2013) and Chicago Blues: Portraits and Stories (U. Of Illinois Press, 2006). He is currently at work completing a book on contemporary Chicago blues and a co-written autobiography of the late soul singer Denise LaSalle.