Fred Anderson Timeless/Live At The Velvet Lounge Delmark Records
If there's a particularly effective way of documenting free jazz on DVD, this could be it. The fact that the old Velvet Lounge, the club saxophonist Fred Anderson owns, has now disappeared beneath the ravages of the bulldozers, ensures that the disc is about social history, and the changes it can bring, almost as much as it is about the music itself. That a new Velvet Lounge has already sprung up in place of the old is the happiest of events, and this programme of music from the old is as potent as anything Anderson has committed to posterity in the past.
In the course of the interview with the man himself, which is one of the bonuses here, he talks about his association with Chicago and with that city's AACM. His words are further enhanced by the (unidentified) interviewer, who clearly knows the value of simply letting his subject talkas opposed to shaping what is revealed with a glut of questions. In fact, watching the interview before the set has the beneficial effect of placing it in a wider context.
Not that the music itself isn't expansive enough. The trio of Anderson, Harrison Bankhead (bass) and Hamid Drake (drums) are three men thinking as one, and the music flies even during slow tempo, more contemplative passages. The four tracks average out at around sixteen minutes each. In lesser hands this might result in a certain marking of time, but here the overall effect is one of probing momentum.
Visually and musically Timeless/Live At The Velvet Lounge is something to treasure. In his commitment to the music, and his belief that it has a vital role to play in our increasingly fractious world, Fred Anderson and his fellows are to be applauded.
Tracks: Flashback; Ode To Tip; By Many Names; Timeless.
Personnel: Fred Anderson: tenor saxophone; Harrison Bankhead: bass; Hamid Drake: drums.
Production notes: Recorded at the Velvet Lounge with 24 bit/High Resolution Audio on July 12 and 13, 2005. Special Features: Fred Anderson Interview; Delmark discography.