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I had the opportunity to interview with Fred Anderson on several occasions. In each instance I walked away with the feeling that I was a better person for the time I spent with him. It was his wisdom, his generosity of spirit, his knowingness that our time here on this planet was short at best, and his humble appreciation to have been able to play music during this lifetime.
He had a gentle soul that was much larger than life, and his sound and spirit reached far beyond the realm of this universe. His passing digs deep and severed a significant piece of music fabric and history. But he left us these words, these precious notes that reflect the soul and spirit of a beautiful and peaceful man. He will be terribly missed....
"Music is life and is bigger than all of us. We need to nurture it, keep the spirit going and like anything artistic in life, it needs to be preserved. And it's difficult to put into words because each person interprets what it means according to how they feel at that particular time in their life. Some people experience it over and over and some people experience it for the first time. It's our existence but you have to listen to hear the story. It's your understanding of yourself and a language that you can learn to speak. When you are faced with difficulty, it can provide you with peace but trying to explain it is another thing completely. It provides a forecast for what's going on at that time. And it's like this life. You don't know when you are going to leave or how long you are going to stay, and then all of a sudden it's over. It is a mystery that is unexplainable and is its greatness." Fred Anderson (2006)
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.