Fred Anderson (musician)

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Fred Anderson
Fred Anderson Jazz.jpg
Fred Anderson in 2005; Photo by Seth Tisue
Background information
Born (1929-03-22)March 22, 1929
Origin Monroe, Louisiana, U.S.
Died June 24, 2010(2010-06-24) (aged 81)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Saxophone

Fred Anderson (March 22, 1929 – June 24, 2010) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist who was based in Chicago, Illinois.[1] Anderson's playing was rooted in the swing music and hard bop idioms, but also incorporated innovations from free jazz, rendering him, as critics Ron Wynn and Joslyn Layne[2] have written, "a seminal figure among Chicago musicians in the '60s."


Anderson was born Monroe, Louisiana. He grew up in the Southern United States and learned to play the saxophone by himself when he was a teenager.[3] Anderson moved his family to Evanston, Illinois in the 1940s. He studied music formally at the Roy Knapp Conservatory in Chicago, and had a private teacher for a short time.[3] Fred worked installing carpet for decades to sustain his music and his family, before opening up a succession of important Chicago nightclubs. Despite Anderson's prominence as an avant-garde musician, his guiding inspiration was Charlie Parker, portraits of whom are prominently displayed at Anderson's club, the Velvet Lounge.

He was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and an important member of the musical collective. In the early 1960s Anderson formed his own group, playing his original compositions, with Vernon Thomas on drums, Bill Fletcher on bass, and his partner for many years, the Chicago jazz trumpeter Billy Brimfield.[3]

Anderson appeared on several notable avant garde albums in the 1960s, notably the seminal Delmark recordings of saxophonist Joseph Jarman, As If It Were the Seasons (1968), and Song For (1966), which includes Anderson's composition "Little Fox Run."

Around 1972 he put together the Fred Anderson Sextet, with trombonist George Lewis, reedist Douglas Ewart, bassist Felix Blackman, drummer Hamid Drake and Iqua Colson on vocals, playing in and around Chicago.[4]

Anderson toured Europe with Brimfield in 1977, recording as guests Accents with the Austrian trio Neighbours on MRC label. He back again in 1978 with his own group with Brimfield, George Lewis, and Hamid Drake and hooked up with bassist Brian Smith at the Moers Festival in Germany for his first record as leader, Another Place.[4]

Anderson opened his short-lived performance-workshop space Birdhouse around 1977, in honor of Charlie Parker, and closed the place in 1978.[3] In 1983, he took over ownership of the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, which quickly became a center for the city's jazz and experimental music scenes. The club expanded and relocated in the summer of 2006. Before that, his eclectic Beehive bar in west Chicago was a draw where musicians from around the world drank beer and played, mostly for each other.

Though he remained an active performer, Anderson recorded rarely for about a decade beginning in the mid-1980s. By the 1990s, however, he resumed a more active recording schedule, both as a solo artist, and in collaboration with younger performers, notably drummer Hamid Drake.

Anderson acted as mentor to young musicians who have gone on to prominent careers in music, either by featuring them in his groups or as performers at the Velvet Lounge. The list of musicians who he helped bring to public attention includes Hamid Drake, Harrison Bankhead, David Boykin, Nicole Mitchell, Justin Dillard, Aaron Getsug, Josh Abrams, Fred Jackson, Jr., George Lewis, Karl E. H. Seigfried, Isaiah Sharkey, and Isaiah Spencer. His son, Eugene Anderson, is a drummer.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Joseph Jarman

With Neighbours

  • Accents (MRC, 1978)

With Irene Schweizer and Hamid Drake


  1. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 14. ISBN 0-141-00646-3. 
  2. ^ Ron Wynn & Joslyn Layne, "Fred Anderson".
  3. ^ a b c d Fred Anderson Biography Musician Guide
  4. ^ a b Black Horn Long Gone Original Liner Notes

External links[edit]