Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo pays a visit to honor late saxophonist Fred Anderson | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo pays a visit to honor late saxophonist Fred Anderson

Twenty-five years ago, they recorded a live quartet record with drummer Hamid Drake and bassist Tatsu Aoki that’s only now seeing release.


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Since 1990, local percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang have held annual sunrise concerts on the morning of the winter solstice. Over time the series has expanded to include performances on adjacent mornings as well as evening concerts that bring in the duo's past and present collaborators. This year the final evening show promises to be something quite special. It will honor an association of Drake's that began even earlier than the solstice series. When he was a teenager, his family lived in the same building as tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, who became his musical mentor. They sustained their relationship as Drake went on to achieve international renown for his mercurial but faultlessly apposite playing, which can make musicians as dissimilar as improvising rock trio Mako Sica and jazz elder Archie Shepp up their game; it ended only when the older man died in 2010. In December 1994, Drake had brought along one of his compadres from abroad, Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, to jam at Anderson's club the Velvet Lounge. At the time, they were both playing with German free-jazz titan Peter Brötzmann in the Die Like a Dog Quartet, which relied upon Kondo's electronically processed horn to project Albert Ayler's New Orleans-rooted free jazz into the future. Kondo exerted a similarly otherworldly influence on the elongated, earthy themes of Anderson, Drake, and bassist Tatsu Aoki, who were already a semiregular trio at the Velvet. Though a DAT recorder was running that December night, the CD-R on which the recording was stored turned out to be defective, and it wasn't till this year that data-retrieval technology had advanced far enough for Aoki to find an engineer who could banish the disc's digital gremlins. Twenty-five years to the month after it was recorded, Fred Anderson Quartet Live Volume V (FPE) will finally take its place alongside the other records the saxophonist recorded on his home turf. On Sunday, December 22, Kondo reunites with Aoki and Drake (joined by Zerang) to celebrate its release.  v

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