see Fred Anderson for others with this name.
Fred Anderson in 2005; Photo by Seth Tisue
|Birth name||Fred Anderson|
|Born||March 22, 1929|
With his distinctive forward-bent playing posture, Anderson is a longtime fixture on the Chicago jazz scene. Anderson's playing is rooted in the swing music and hard bop of his youth, but also incorporated innovations from free jazz, making him, as critics Ron Wynn and Joslyn Layne write, "a seminal figure among Chicago musicians in the '60s." His son, Eugene Anderson, is a noted drummer.
Anderson grew up in the Southern U.S. and learned to play the saxophone by himself when he was a teenager. Anderson moved his family to Evanston, Illinois in the 1940's. He studied music formally at the Roy Knapp Conservatory in Chicago, and had a private teacher for a short time. 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 continues to be 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 is still an important member of the musical collective. His partner for many years was the Chicago underground jazz legend, trumpeter Billy Brimfield.
Anderson appeared on several notable avant garde albums in the '60s, 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."
In 1983, Fred Anderson 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-'80s. By the 1990s, however, he resumed a more active recording schedule, both as a solo artist, and in collaboration with younger performers, notably saxophonist Ken Vandermark and drummer Hamid Drake.
Since at least the 1970s, Anderson has 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 include Harrison Bankhead, David Boykin, Hamid Drake, Aaron Getsug, Josh Abrams, Fred Jackson, George Lewis, Karl E. H. Seigfried, Isaiah Sharkey, and Isaiah Spencer.