“Patience, Sincerity, and Consistency”: Fred Anderson’s Musical and Social Practices

Paul Steinbeck


The August 19, 2009 symposium held in honor of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, and the eightieth-birthday concert that took place the following evening, provided tangible representations of the acclaim and appreciation received by Anderson in his last years. Though Anderson was best known for his work as a performer, bandleader, and “gray eminence” on the international jazz and improvised-music scene, he was equally successful in the social realm as an educator, a community builder, and—critically—the steward of the Velvet Lounge nightclub, which he owned and operated from 1982 to 2010. In this article, I examine Anderson’s musical and social practices, demonstrating how he constructed inclusive, supportive spaces for multiple personal expression via musical sound and social interaction. I also consider the relationships between Anderson’s efforts and the goals of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the African American artists’ collective that Anderson was affiliated with for more than four decades. The “data set” for this investigation includes the proceedings of the above-mentioned symposium, my own interviews with Anderson, and analyses of his compositions, performances, and music-theoretical discoveries.


Autodidacticism; Community; Experimental Music; Improvisation; Jazz History; Pedagogy; Social Practice

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21083/csieci.v6i2.1020

Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (through both its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives and Aid to Scholarly Journals programs) and by the University of Guelph Library.
ISSN: 1712-0624