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.