The great tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson passed away in 2010 at the age of 81. He touched many people's lives with his remarkable playing and musical vision, and his Velvet Lounge is a one-of-a-kind music venue where thousands of great performances have happened over the years. One thing that I love about his music is his unique musicality; the interplay that one hears with the different people he worked with is something that completely unique. He was always curious, thoughtful, and soulful. His music and spirit live on!
Here are some remembrances that people have of Fred Anderson --
"I saw Fred play many times, interviewed him more than once, and had a number of pleasant conversations with him. He was always humble and cordial, with none of the ego that drives some artists. While I feel sad that he is gone, I am really glad he has been here. He really made a difference to his world and he did what he wanted to do right up to the end of his life. In a way, he was a lucky man, and Chicago was definitely lucky to have him." -- Bill Meyer, writer
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"As I began my creative music journey, Fred Anderson -- along with other members of the AACM -- allowed me the freedom to explore at the Velvet Lounge. Fred embraced me and my efforts and encouraged my creativity in a safe and loving space....for that I love him." -- Renée Baker, musician and composer
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"Fred's soul is inhabiting other spaces now, and those spaces now get to be blessed. Yuganaut played the Velvet last October while we were on tour, and Fred was there, holding court, loving us and encouraging us. Meeting him was an act of generosity unto itself, 'Can I help you load in? Need stands? Mics? Anything?' Incredible. I mean...the love is there in the playing, yes, but it just extended into every moment of his life -- the playing was just the MUSIC extension of the love that was Fred. Continue your journey, O great lov-er!" -- Stephen Rush, musician and composer
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"Thanks to Fred Anderson and the original Birdhouse on North Clark Street, I met him and heard Hal Russell for the very first time. This was in 1979, and my life was forever changed. Listening to Fred play a very inspiring duet with drummer Tim Daisy at the Okka Fest last summer in Milwaukee was a surreal moment. His performance was truly memorable." -- Steve Hunt, musician
"I will always remember Fred Anderson for a lot of reasons, but here are some memories that stand out to me. August 14th, 2007 was my first gig as a leader at the Velvet Lounge. I was nervous as hell. I was telling Fred about being nervous. He said, 'Man, just play the music -- everything will be all right, just play your music.' I'll never forget that. Fred always encouraged me to keep pushing on, and to play the music.
"Another story is when we went to Pisa, Italy for the Insolent Noise Jazz Festival. There was a night when almost everybody was out in the streets partying, and Fred and I were probably the only folks at the hotel. I always thought that was funny. I'm going to miss Fred so much, he was a great mentor who gave me my first chance to perform. He didn't care if we played standards or whatever. That was the kind of place the Velvet is, where Fred would welcome you with open arms. I lost my grandfather a couple years ago, and now I lost another. He will be in my heart forever." -- Saalik Ziyad, musician and composer
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"Fred Anderson did a show with his trio at Elastic in June 2006. There was a poster made for the event which depicted him towering over the building Elastic is in. We liked to joke that it looked like a Godzilla movie...something like: 'Fred Eats Elastic!'. It was so appropriate, because Fred was such a towering figure! Also, not many people know this, but we really solidified our decision to start Elastic during a DKV show at The Velvet Lounge. We always saw that as being a good omen for us, and it has been!" -- Sam Lewis, musician
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"While I was not a frequent visitor to the Velvet Lounge, I was aware of Fred Anderson and his compatriots (especially some of the AACM members whom I had a chance to play with most often in the 1980s). I heard Fred play several times but, alas, not often enough. I have a deep respect for Chicago's founding tradition of non-traditional jazz -- exploring, exposing, and extrapolating. Fred Anderson was one of those artists whose life and work taught purposeful meaning to many of my musical friends and to myself. -- Jon Hey, musician and composer
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"What I remember is that he was kind to me, and open-minded enough to be interested to play with me at Chicago Calling in 2008 at the Velvet. He didn't quite know what to do with what I was doing while we were playing. I think he might have thought of me as a crazy percussionist." -- Eric Glick Rieman, musician and composer
You are invited to come to “Spring, Rebirth & Renewal”: an interfaith arts event at the Ridgeville Community House. The program will include readings from sacred texts, poetry performances, and musical performances that focus on the theme “Spring, Rebirth & Renewal.” Participants will include Reverend Jean Siegfried Darling, Cheryll Simmerman, Jeanine Caughlin, Candace Hill, Seth Fisher, Ellyzabeth Adler, and Dan Godston. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (312) 380-9223 for more information.