Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fred Anderson, Venerable and as Vibrant as Ever

Tenor Saxophonist Fred Anderson has been an important presence on the Chicago jazz scene for well more than 40 years. A charter member of the AACM, long-time Jazz club owner and an utterly distinctive tenor stylist, his stature in the "new" music world is unquestioned.

His most recent album Staying in the Game (Engine) gives ample evidence of why that is so. If anything, he sounds more vital now perhaps than at any time in his career. The CD gives Fred plenty of space to unwind some long and inspired solos. He's ably accompanied by Harrison Bankhead on bass and Tim Daisy on drums, but it's Mr. Anderson who shines especially bright.

Most if not all improvisers have particular pet phrases or motives that they interject in the course of the flow of the music by preference, habit or to balance the musical syntax. It is perhaps an indication of how inspired Anderson is on this recording that he resorts to such phrases very little. It's a constant barrage of creative energy for Fred on the six improvisations that comprise the set. Indispensable Anderson, I would say. And a perfect introduction to his mastery for those who may have missed it.

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