“Free” jazz pioneer Fred Anderson turns 80 in March, and the five-day celebration at his club, the Velvet Lounge, begins on Wednesday, March 18th, with a rare local appearance by two storied bassists, Richard Davis and Henry Grimes. On Friday, the 20th, Anderson himself will perform with members of AsianImprov Arts (AIA), a jazz collective inspired by his work, and such admirers as the saxist Ed Wilkerson and Jeff Parker, the Tortoise guitarist. Sunday the 22nd centers on Anderson’s internationally acclaimed trio starring the saxist Kidd Jordan, who, in New Orleans, occupies a niche similar to Anderson’s—father figure to the avant-garde.
Anderson himself still blows hard and long, having lost only a step in the past two decades—easily strong enough to blow out 80 candles if required. He’s not feeling sentimental about the upcoming milestone: “There’s still a lot to be done, and I’m just here for a short while,” he says. “A lot of the young musicians, they’re not spending enough time with the scales and the chords. I can’t be ‘celebrating’ something that’s still ongoing.”
GO: Velvet Lounge 67 E. Cermak Rd.; 312-791-9050, velvetlounge.net March 18th through 22nd
Photograph: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press