logo   Fred Anderson / DKV Trio (OD12014)
Musicians Fred Anderson — tenor sax
Hamid Drake — percussion
Kent Kessler — bass
Ken Vandermark — reeds
Cover and Artwork cover

Graphic design: Louise Molnar
Photos (outside): Glenda Kapsalis
Photos (inside): Marty Perez


1. Planet E — 8:30 (MPEG2)
2. Aaron’s Tune — 5:55
3. Black Woman — 6:09
4. Our Theme — 5:56
5. Dark Day — 10:54
6. Lady’s in Love — 10:30 (MPEG2)
total time: 47:56

Compositions by Fred Anderson (Many Weathers/BMI)

Recording Info Recorded at Airwave Studios, Chicago, IL, December 3, 1996

Produced by: Ken Vandermark & Bruno Johnson
Executive Producer: Bruno Johnson
Engineer: John McCortney

Readers Choice for Top 30 Releases of 1997, Cadence, January 1998

Like Roscoe Mitchell, tenor saxist Fred Anderson is a Chicago legend, but coming from the opposite direction; where Mitchell epitomizes taut design and compositional concepts. Anderson is known for open, epic expressionist free-blowing, The combination of Fred Anderson and the DKV Trio (OkkaDisk, ****), however, puts him into an enclosed arena and pairs him with a vigorous sparring partner. The two tenors are marvelously matched — they modulate dynamics and dramatics as one while keeping their personalities distinct. Anderson likes to burrow deeply into a tune, as Vandermark ricochets off of its energy patterns. So, on "Aaron’s Tune," Vandermark is fluent and excitable, while Anderson reveals his swing and bop sympathies with slightly laid-back phrasing. "Black Woman" is a lovely, mournful melody, and "Our Theme" is an old-fashioned high energy two-tenor chase a la Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray. Add totally in-synch rhythm section support and you have an amazing 50 minutes of music.

- Art Lange, Pulse, November 1997

The first recorded encounter between Anderson and Vandermark, who play regularly at the former’s Velvet Lounge on the near South Side, the OkkaDisk CD is harder-edged. It’s an album of fiery (if friendly) jousting and, in the grip of Drake’s dancing polyrhythms, onrushing intensity.

But this is more than a blowing session. A keen sense of structure and continuity defines this program of Anderson originals, as one jazz generation comes to terms with and inspires another. The saxists’ unison lines, which on the mournful "Dark Day" create the moody intensity of Ornette Coleman’s "Lonely Woman," have the organic connection of two leaves on the same branch. Ultimately, Fred [Southport] and Fred Anderson/DKV Trio are linked by what can only be called Anderson’s philosophical bent. A sturdy wisdom and calm authority inhabit his notes, assuring his younger collaborators even as it prods them into never compromising in their pursuit of bandstand truth.

- Lloyd Sachs, Chicago Sun-Times, July 20, 1997

Saxophonist Fred Anderson is the granddad of Chicago free jazz players. In the ’60s, Anderson took players under his wing who then went on to form the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and thirty years later he’s still showing us how it’s done. His strong tone is blunt sounding, yet sinuous to the ear. He’s not really a "downtown" musician per se, as his compositions have a sonorous note that, when he improvises, seldom strays far from the blues. Helping him out is DKV, comprised of drummer Hamid Drake, bassist Kent Kessler and reedist Ken Vandermark, who have been playing together for years and have garnered a quite a bit of recognition on their own. Like the sage master, these young lions of the Chicago scene dwell at the edges, yet still maintain a beauty not usually associated with the art of improvisation. "Lady In Love," "Black Woman" and "Dark Day" feature Anderson and Vandermark playing the blues with the reverence of men who have had some serious contemplation on their own salvation. The two do just as well on the out numbers: Playing different parts of the same piece, they intertwine, bump heads and play an inspired game of tag among the valves of their saxophones, as on "Our Theme Song" and "Planet E." With the support of a superlative rhythm section, Anderson has created a true reflection of the great things happening in Chicago s jazz scene these days.

- Tad Hendrickson, CMJ, June 23, 1997

Chicago’s reigning freespirit of the tenor saxophone, Fred Anderson, has been enjoying a surge of recording activity in recent years, with young lions and old masters eager to document their sessions with him. The results can be imposing, as in the volcanic Fred Anderson/DKV Trio (OkkaDisk). To hear Anderson’s magisterial tenor lines counterbalanced by Ken Vandermark’s reed blasts, with volatile accompaniment from bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Hamid Drake, is to understand the fury and sonic power of Chicago musical experimentation in the ’90s. But there’s more than just noise to this recording, which also has searing, soulful ballad playing on "Aaron’s Tune" and "Dark Day." Anderson and Vandermark’s duet passages are sublime, transcending traditional time signatures, key centers and scale patterns.

- Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune, July 8, 1997

The discography on the sleeve of [this] Fred Anderson CD gives the impression that his recording career began a mere handful of years ago, at a time when his contemporaries were packing up their instruments and retiring to Florida (or at least dreaming of it). But those of you with long memories may recall his role in Joseph Jarman’s Song For, one of the AACM’s first aural manifestos, and a recording under his own name for Moers called Another Place — rare black vinyl from the ’60s and ’70s. Fred’s been around for some time. His public profile is low because of his reluctance to tour, but if you happen to be visiting Chicago you can hear him play at the Velvet Lounge, where he has a weekly residency.

You’d be advised to do so — he’s far from a parochial second-rater. Check out the caliber of musician he’s played with: Steve McCall, George Lewis, Hamid Drake, Marilyn Crispell, Peter Brötzmann. Recordings are coming thick and fast: there are two new discs on Nessa and Southport. If they’re anywhere near as good as the one under discussion, they’ll deserve a permanent place in your collection.

The sleeve gives no details about personnel or instrumentation, but even when both saxophonists are on tenor it’s easy to tell them apart: Vandermark’s in the left channel. He’s the more excitable player of the two, whipping up storms out of nowhere. On the up-tempo numbers he unleashes flurries of distorted notes and embarks on furious headlong runs. If each solo were a race, Vandermark would be inclined to treat it as a 100-metre dash. Anderson is, I suppose, the tortoise to Vandermark’s hare; he’s not exactly slow but he gives due consideration to every note. As a result he’s more often lyrical; his lines are intricate and convoluted rather than dense and churning.

But there are tender moments, too. “Black Woman” is, to all intents and purposes, a gentle tenor duet, with only a few soloistic wisps from Anderson, and “Dark Day” features a short clarinet soliloquy over a brooding arco drone and Drake’s loose-limbed tidal pulsations. Anderson’s solo on the latter track, though somewhat bleak, is possessed of a stark, unsentimental beauty.

— Brian Marley, Avant, Spring 1998