Books for the News

Fred Anderson—pioneer of avant-garde jazz—dies at 81

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Fred Anderson, a pillar of Chicago’s avant-garde jazz scene, and a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians—an internationally renowned collective of musicians and composers dedicated to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music—passed away yesterday at the age of 81. Many also remember him as the proprietor of the Velvet Lounge, one of Chicago’s premier venues for the music he helped to flourish in a city some might suppose rather unlikely to embrace the type of free creative expression he helped to promote. You can read an obituary article in this morning’s BBC News or in the L.A. Times music blog.
George E. Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music tells the story of how Mr. Anderson, alongside other luminaries of the avant garde genre—Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell—established a vibrant community of musicians from around the world that would become one of the most influential organizations in contemporary jazz music. Moving from Chicago to New York to Paris, and from founding member Steve McCall’s kitchen table to Carnegie Hall, A Power Stronger Than Itself uncovers a vibrant, multicultural universe and brings to light a major piece of the history of avant-garde music and art.
Read an excerpt.