Fred Anderson, a forward thinking tenor saxophonist for more than six decades and a major force in Chicago's vital jazz scene, died Thursday following a heart attack. He was 81 years old.
What I've found so remarkable about Anderson isn't so much that he lived so long, but that he lived so fully right up to the end of his life. At his age he was regularly playing gigs, like at his now-legendary Velvet Lounge, and on jazz-festival circuits in Europe and on these shores. All the while playing his sax with a meaningful, youthful exuberance where beneath all the dissonant notes he articulated remained echoes of the sweet strains of bebop he learned first hand as a young man in the late 40s.
Though largely overlooked throughout much of his career, Anderson made a steady stream of records since the mid-90s that capture him in top form, a couple of which we've examined here (click on the Fred Anderson tag below for reviews on Staying In The Game and 21st Century Chase).
Chicago jazz and fans of expressive jazz everywhere will notice his absence. It seems that at 81 years, Fred Anderson left us too soon.
Purchase: Fred Anderson - Staying In The Game
Purchase: Fred Anderson - 21st Century Chase
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File