Saturday, July 03, 2010

Fred Anderson, thanks, wherever you are

It was just a few weeks ago that I mourned the loss of Bill Dixon and here I am again writing about the death of another jazz titan - tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson. And when I say "titan" I mean the definition of the term.

When I was reading the Post-Gazette this morning, something told me to take a lot at the obituaries. That's where I saw that Anderson had passed away. But my eyes must've glazed over the death date, because I had no idea that he died on June 24. I was under the impression it happened this week and it wasn't until I read the article I've linked here that I was found out.

When I reviewed Fred's trio album on Engine last year (see entry on July 26, 2009), there was a moment when I opined that he should live forever because he "has an unending font of ideas." Not only that, a lot of people depended on him, directly or indirectly. His Velvet Lounge served as a home to so many musicians, and there were probably a lot of nights when musicians made plans to record or work together, making plans that might not have otherwise come together. These unspoken catalysts should not be overlooked.

There were also nights when he tended bar at the Velvet and played a set. You're not going to find many musicians with that sort of work ethic. It makes you wonder a) what most of today's jazz musicians will be doing when they're 81 years old and b) whether anyone have that type of tenacity to keep an operation going, without being either a victim or a follower of the almighty dollar.

Don't know about Fred Anderson? Check out this fine piece that Kurt Gottschalk wrote for All About Jazz:

Then buy a handful of CDs by him.

Thanks, Fred. You were a walking inspiration.

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