Skip to Content

"Patience, Sincerity, and Consistency": Fred Anderson's Musical and Social Practices

Paul Steinbeck

Published: 2010-12-06

The August 19, 2009 symposium held in honor of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, and the eightieth-birthday concert that took place the following evening, provided tangible representations of the acclaim and appreciation received by Anderson in his last years. Though Anderson was best known for his work as a performer, bandleader, and "gray eminence" on the international jazz and improvised-music scene, he was equally successful in the social realm as an educator, a community builder, and--critically--the steward of the Velvet Lounge nightclub, which he owned and operated from 1982 to 2010. In this article, Steinbeck examines Anderson's musical and social practices, demonstrating how he constructed inclusive, supportive spaces for multiple personal expression via musical sound and social interaction. Steinbeck also considers the relationships between Anderson's efforts and the goals of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the African American artists' collective that Anderson was affiliated with for more than four decades. The "data set" for this investigation includes the proceedings of the above-mentioned symposium, Steinbeck's own interviews with Anderson, and analyses of his compositions, performances, and music-theoretical discoveries.

Available Files

  • Fred_Andersons_Musical_and_Social_Practices.pdf

    527 KB | application/pdf


Improvisation is, simply put, being and living this very moment. No one can hide in music, and improvising in music is to be truly in this very moment and being completely yourself, with all your qualities and faults. It is probably the most honest state for a human being to be in.

– John McLaughlin in an interview with Daniel Fischlin.