Last Call at the Velvet Lounge
June 26, 2010 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Fred Anderson was a monster on the tenor sax. Fred Anderson was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and his "home court," the Velvet Lounge, remains a place for Chicago creative musicians to find welcoming audience. Fred died June 24 in Chicago. A wake will take place from 5 to 6 PM this Tuesday (June 29) at Leak and Sons Funeral Chapel, 7838 S. Cottage Grove, followed immediately by Anderson’s Going Home service.

I first met Fred in 1972, when he and his sextet played at the AACM festival at the University of Chicago (The Art Ensemble's "Live at Mandel Hall" was recorded that week). Two years later, I would drive 60 miles to Chicago to hear his band play midnight to daybreak at a place on at N. Wells & North Avenue in Old Town. With him and his band, we set up his first club, The BirdHouse. Fred shared stories of the jazz scene in Chicago in the 1940's, and the incubation and birth of the AACM. He incorporated the gutbucket blues of his native Louisiana into the sonic explorations of extended form of avant-garde jazz. In 1982, Fred had saved enough money from his day job to buy a club on the south side that he re-christened the Velvet Lounge.

Fred was a true giant. Here are Fred, Hamid Drake & the late Peter Kowald on "Straight, but Not Straight" from The Fred Anderson Trio Live at the Velvet Lounge.
posted by beelzbubba (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Fred's trio live at the European Jazz Festival, 2005: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

I'll miss seeing him taking money at the door of the Velvet. I only saw him play once, but it was unforgettable.
posted by goatdog at 8:09 PM on June 26, 2010

posted by box at 8:35 PM on June 26, 2010

Thanks for the post. I was thinking of doing an obit post for Anderson, but didn't have the time, really. I'm so glad you posted it, beelzbubba. It's extra great that you made it, having been personally associated with Fred.

As a founding member of the AACM, we can be very thankful to him for creating an organization that was an early enabler of so many great musicians: the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Henry Threadgill and Air, George Lewis, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins and many others. Here's the Wiki page for the AACM.

RIP, Fred Anderson.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:20 PM on June 26, 2010

posted by whm at 9:22 PM on June 26, 2010

A few years ago I spent the summer waitressing in Chicago and listening to all the jazz I could find. I'm so glad, especially now, to have seen Fred Anderson play at the Art Institute. A memory for a lifetime.
posted by sunnichka at 9:33 PM on June 26, 2010

posted by ryanshepard at 10:04 PM on June 26, 2010

Aww. Jeez, dad, sorry to hear it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 PM on June 26, 2010

posted by peterkins at 1:48 AM on June 27, 2010


Every time I went to the Velvet Lounge, my mind was thoroughly blown.
posted by chillmost at 2:06 AM on June 27, 2010

Damn. I tried to see him whenever he came out to NYC; I particularly remember a midnight show with Hamid Drake and William Parker at St. Nicholas of Myra church on Avenue A in 1999. The Penguin Guide to Jazz has a nice description of him:
It's irritating to hear people talk about having seen a musician when they really mean they've heard him. With Fred Anderson, as with a few others, the two are more than usually connected. Not for him the upright stance and relaxed shoulders the manuals suggest. The veteran Chicagoan dips, stoops and crouches and, what's more, you can hear him do it. Anderson always sounds in pursuit of what he has to say, in struggle with the sheer intransigence of the music.
posted by languagehat at 5:55 AM on June 27, 2010

Drake and Parker are my favorite sidemen to see—I'll see just about anyone front them.
posted by klangklangston at 11:18 AM on June 27, 2010

Drake and Parker are my favorite sidemen to see—I'll see just about anyone front them.
posted by klangklangston

ORLY? Akron Family plays the Vision Festival as Akron/Xtended/Family to close the event next Wednesday at 10 pm. The lineup:

Seth Olinsky - guitar & vocals
Dana Janssen - bass, vocals
Miles Seaton - drums
William Parker - bass
Hamid Drake - drums

But you're right. Parker & Drake will probably bring out their best.

Fred Anderson & Chad Taylor were supposed to play last Thursday, the day Fred died, at the Vision Festival. The program was a night of tributes to another of the AACM founders, Muhal Richard Abrams, and two other longtime Anderson collaborators--Hamid Drake & Harrison Bankhead were to be at VF that night. I'm sure that night's program had a long shadow cast on it.
posted by beelzbubba at 12:05 PM on June 27, 2010

Akron Family, they're slight folksters, right? Still, yeah, I'd go see that—were it not in Chicago, some couple thousand miles away.
posted by klangklangston at 1:13 PM on June 27, 2010

posted by ardgedee at 3:25 PM on June 27, 2010

« Older The (Other) Other White Meat   |   "I hope his wife is named Samantha." Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments