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21st Century Chase by Fred Anderson

Legendary Chicago saxophonist/club owner Fred Anderson celebrated his 80th birthday in March, 2009 with a stellar set of adventurous avant garde jazz at his club, The Velvet Lounge. Available through Delmark Records in both DVD and CD format, 21st Century Chase features Anderson with fellow tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan, guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Chad Taylor.

The title of the disc refers to a classic 1947 "tenor battle" called The Chase with saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray. The in-the-moment, focused rapport between Anderson and Jordan on this modern day "battle" is captivating. Although the main focus is on the elder-statesmen saxophone frontline, with a rhythm section as strong as Parker, Bankhead and Taylor, the entire ensemble is given equal say in the development of each piece. There's a moment, about twelve minutes into the thirty-six minute opener "21st Century Chase Pt I" where Parker's guitar and Anderson's tenor mesh into a bursting font of joyous high-pitched growls. There are, in fact, numerous moments to be found throughout the entire disc.

Bassist Bankhead's tireless pulse provides a warm cushion for Anderson and Jordan to rest on while exploring the far reaches of spontaneous thought. The bassist opens "21st Century Chase Pt II" with distorted elaborations of unaccompanied bowing. What stands out above all of the fingerboard hopping is the bassist's incomparable technique and spot-on intonation.

Parker's solo guitar punctuates angular arpeggios to begin the closing "Ode to Alvin Fielder." Taylor eventually joins in with brushes, followed by flowing counter lines courtesy of Bankhead to set up a medium-up swinging vibe. Anderson and Jordan take turns devouring the moment with enthusiastic homage to the tenor legacy of past and present.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Fred Anderson
  • CD Title: 21st Century Chase
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Delmark Records
  • Tracks: 21st Century Chase Pt I, 21st Century Chase Pt II, Ode to Alvin Fielder
  • Musicians: Fred Anderson (tenor saxophone), Kidd Jordan (tenor saxophone), Harrison Bankhead (bass), Jeff Parker (guitar), Chad Taylor (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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