Fred Anderson Profiled

Source: burning ambulance.

Anderson, who died in 2010, was a fascinating figure. Though he was an early member of the AACM, appearing on the late Joseph Jarman‘s Song For and As If It Were the Seasons, he didn’t record as a leader until 1978, when he made Another Place for the Moers Music label with trumpeter Billy Brimfield, trombonist George Lewis, bassist Brian Smith, and Drake, then calling himself Hank, on drums. He recorded Dark Day the following year, with Brimfield, Drake, and bassist Steven Palmore. The Missing Link was also recorded in 1979, with Drake, bassist Larry Hayrod, and percussionist Adam Rudolph, but it wasn’t released until 1984. And after that, nobody heard from him for 12 years, until the 1996 release of Birdhouse on the Okka Disk label. He focused on running his bar, and providing a stage for other players.

Between 1996 and his death, though, Anderson was in a creative frenzy. He recorded 25 albums in 15 years (there have also been two posthumous live releases), and guested on eight more by Misha Mengelberg, Matana Roberts, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Muhal Richard Abrams, among others. Though he had a pool of regular collaborators, Hamid Drake first among them, he was open to all kinds of playing situations, and seemed to particularly enjoy passing his knowledge on to younger musicians. He was compelling to watch, too. He performed bent at the waist, the horn’s keys at a level with his knees; my back hurts just looking at video of the guy onstage. I have no idea how he did that for decades.