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Fred Anderson Quartet: Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1/Live At The Velvet Lounge Volume Two

Mark Corroto By

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The beauty listening to jazz is the ability to move backwards in time while discovering ‘new’ artists and charting their careers. For instance, a Miles Davis fan can step into his electric/funk records and follow them back to John Coltrane through Wayne Shorter, all the while researching the modern career of Shorter or picking up discs by other Miles collaborators George Coleman, Hank Mobley, or Kenny Garrett. Even better is discovering musicians like Fred Anderson. To say ‘discover’ of a founding member of the AACM in 1965 is a misnomer, Anderson has been on the scene (at least in Chicago) some forty years. Through the efforts of writer John Corbett, and independent labels such as Asian Improv, Okka, Southport, and Atavistic, his music and contribution to creative music can be recognized and more importantly heard live today.

Atavistic’s Unheard Music Series, fashioned by John Corbett, unearthed this live date from Milwaukee in the winter of 1980. Very little of Anderson from this period is available on record although he had toured and performed regularly. This session in 1980 is somehow out of place in the soon to be born Wynton Marsalis era. Anderson’s music seems to be either circa 1964 or 2001. His quartet of (now) longtime collaborators trumpeter Billy Brimfield, bassist Larry Hayrod, and percussionist Hamid Drake, take the spark of Ornette Coleman and apply a large-shouldered Chicago sensibility to the music. Anderson, an AACM member, bridges Gene Ammons and free jazz. His tone doesn’t alienate the meekest of listeners, but satisfies those with wanderlust. If Drake is Anderson’s Ed Blackwell, then Brimfield is his Don Cherry. But we have something different here. Drake and Brimfield are their own musicians and this piano-less quartet recording is a significant discovery. As modern as 1960 and as old school as today’s avant- is Anderson captured live.

Speaking of recent recordings, Fred Anderson and Bill Brimfield released Volume One, a 1998 recording at the Velvet Lounge last year. He is back with Volume Two of the modern recordings, this time with Hamid Drake, Tatsu Aoki on bass and guitarist Jeff Parker substituting for Brimfield. The 2 discs open in trio, with Anderson bringing it as Sonny Rollins 3 did at the Village Vanguard in 1957. Jeff Parker steps in and the affair becomes more democratic, Anderson sharing the stage with the entire quartet. Hamid Drake, whose musical maturity has been closely monitored by the saxophonist, influences the set with more authority than the 1980 session. He has come into his own these days working with the likes of Ken Vandermark, Peter Brotzmann, and Pharoah Sanders. But mostly it’s Parker that propels this date into freer realms. The quartet trades bop back and forth with rocked-out jazz, raggae beats, and an almost M-BASE sound. Fred Anderson takes it all, if not in stride, than in time. His tenor seems ageless, as does his thoroughly modern sound.

TheMilwaukee Tapes Vol. 1 Track List:A Ballad For Rita; The Bull; Black Woman; Bombay (Children Of Cambodia); Planet E.


Personnel: Fred Anderson

Title: Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1/Live At The Velvet Lounge Volume Two | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide

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