Fred Anderson's 80th Birthday Tribute Festival: Isaiah Spencer & the Velvet Jam All-Stars; Fred Anderson, Jeff Parker, Harrison Bankhead, Hamid Drake, and Kidd Jordan with special guests Billy Brimfield, Henry Grimes, and Chad Taylor | Fairs & Festivals | Chicago Reader

Fred Anderson's 80th Birthday Tribute Festival: Isaiah Spencer & the Velvet Jam All-Stars; Fred Anderson, Jeff Parker, Harrison Bankhead, Hamid Drake, and Kidd Jordan with special guests Billy Brimfield, Henry Grimes, and Chad Taylor Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sun., March 22, 7 p.m. 2009

Tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson earned the honorific “the Lone Prophet of the Prairie” both for his singular style, which emphasizes long, winding solos and forceful rhythmic punctuation, and for his determination to stick it out in Chicago. During a dark time that lasted from the mid-70s to the early 90s, when he barely recorded and the folks who’d founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians with him left town in droves, Anderson persevered, hosting jam sessions and mentoring younger players like now-celebrated drummer Hamid Drake. Despite some health problems, the aughts have been good to him; he’s released 16 fine albums, been feted at New York’s Vision Festival, performed a concerto composed for him by Ken Vandermark with the Territory Band at Millennium Park, and kept his Velvet Lounge open despite the demolition of its original location on Indiana Avenue. But you only turn 80 once, and Anderson is making quite a party out of the occasion. The Velvet Lounge has already hosted five evenings dedicated to and sometimes featuring him; tonight the spotlight is all his. He plays three sets backed by Drake, guitarist Jeff Parker, and bassist Harrison Bankhead. The first also features fiery fellow tenor Kidd Jordan; the second includes Jordan plus revenant free-jazz bassist Henry Grimes, trumpeter Billy Brimfield, and drummer Chad Taylor; and the third is an all-star jam with all of the above plus some unannounced guests. After that, drummer Isaiah Spencer presides over another jam featuring Kevin Nabors, Chris McBride, Scott Hesse, and Junius Paul. Advance tickets are sold out, but a few early arrivers will be able to pay at the door. —Bill Meyer

Price: $40

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