If it wasn't one already, Fred Anderson's trio with Hamid Drake and William Parker can rightly be considered a supergroup. Anderson was named the first Vision Festival Lifetime Recognition honoree last month, and if such awards were given, Drake and Parker would surely have shared the MVP trophy. While the three have worked together beforenotably in quartet with Kidd Jordanthis is their first trio recording.
Blue Winter also may be Anderson's definitive release, at least thus far. He's made great records before (see especially Vintage Duets with the late drummer Steve McCall and Chicago Chamber Music, featuring varying lineups) and the documents from his Southside Velvet Lounge club capture a homebrewed character, but Blue Winter is the best effort yet at preserving Anderson's sound in a petri dish.
The first disc is a long, relaxed jam of 45 minutes, with Parker and Drake in an exploratory mood. While the rhythm section players' penchant for groove has rightly made them in high demand, they're also extraordinarily flexible. It isn't until twelve minutes into the first track on the second disc that they start to fall into regular rhythm and even then in flux. The second disc continues with a thirteen-minute call and response with Parker on the double-reed nagaswaram and Drake on hand drum, before concluding with another slow, free jam. Extended unaccompanied sax and percussion sections strengthen the trio's stance.
But the real value of the set is the presence of the no longer under-recognized Anderson. He's released a dozen or more records in the last decade, after making it to retirement age with barely a handful of records to his name. Blue Winter is pure Andersonwith the best rhythm section in the land to be sureand an indispensable selection of energy improv.
Track Listing: CD1: i. CD2: ii; iii; iv.
Personnel: Fred Anderson: tenor saxophone; Hamid Drake: drums; William Parker: bass, nagaswarm.