Fred Anderson Birthday Benefit Festival | Music Sidebar | Chicago Reader

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Fred Anderson Birthday Benefit Festival

The Velvet Lounge celebrates Fred Anderson's 81st birthday with a string of tribute shows.

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A founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and a pillar of Chicago's jazz community, venerable tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson turns 81 on Monday, March 22. He's celebrating at his club, the Velvet Lounge, with special tribute shows this Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday. A host of top-notch improvisers, most of them Velvet regulars, are making appearances, including vocalist Dee Alexander, saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, pianist Willie Pickens, trumpeter Corey Wilkes, and of course Anderson himself. Special out-of-town guests like poet Amiri Baraka, bassist Richard Davis, and reedist Tim O'Dell add extra luster to the already all-star cast. Cover charges are higher than usual for the venue, ranging from $25 to $35, and because the musicians have agreed to perform for less than they could make anywhere else—pretty standard practice at the Velvet year-round—a fair percentage of that extra money will go toward helping Anderson keep his beloved club open. Patrons can also make tax-deductible donations through Tatsu Aoki's Asian Improv Arts Midwest.

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