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Monday, January 15, 2007

Fred Anderson - Timeless/Live At The Velvet Lounge (Delmark, 2006) *****

This CD is the last performance by Fred Anderson in his own Velvet Lounge, which had to be broken down to make place for an appartment building. Fred, 77 years old, set up a new Velvet Lounge in the meantime. A great thing, because his was the place-to-be for the Chicago free jazz scene.
Fred Anderson is a perfectionist, still now practicing for hours on end on his sax, still learning.
On this CD he is accompanied by Hamid Drake (drums) and Harrisson Bankhead (bass). They bring four songs, each between 13 and 25 minutes, of great and exciting music. It's amazing how they can lock in tightly, then let loose again for individual solos, change the tempo, move on different paths again to suddenly rearrange rhythms or come back into a tight core theme. The three players listen intently to each other. Anderson has a very warm and authentic tone, with strong rhythmic solos, searching and soaring, and listening to him is a real pleasure. Hamid Drake is his stellar self : I know few drummers who manage their rhythms so perfectly as Drake, while at the same time adding ligh touches here and there. His personal joy in playing this music is obvious. Bankhead is rock-solid, but what a sensitivity. It's amazing how in his solo in "Ode To Tip" he lets himself be directed by Drake while still doing his own thing. It goes on an on with surprises, some singing, hefty passages, slow passages, even a wind-tube (?) interlude, an enthusiastic and participating audience, but great stuff all along. If you own more than 20 euro, run to the store!

There is also a DVD version of this performance. I'd be more than happy to find it.