FRED ANDERSON & HAMID DRAKE | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

FRED ANDERSON & HAMID DRAKE 

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Tenor sax vet Fred Anderson turned 78 in March, but it doesn't look like age is catching up with him. His recent shows have been as intense and focused as any he's played in years, and From the River to the Ocean (Thrill Jockey), his new album with drummer and longtime disciple Hamid Drake, is simply astonishing. Anderson and Drake are a powerhouse on their own--check out their 2004 duo record, Back Together Again--but River is a group affair, and all the better for it. Jeff Parker (guitar), Harrison Bankhead (piano, cello, bass), and Josh Abrams (bass, guimbri) bring a collective energy to every track, from "For Brother Thompson," a modal homage to trumpeter Malachi Thompson, to the gorgeous closer, "Sakti/Shiva." Yet what's truly revelatory about the album are Anderson's performances on his two original compositions, "Planet E" and "Strut Time": he tears into the blues like he's just discovered it, reshaping phrases with the ease of someone who's completely transcended his instrument. Parker, Bankhead, and Abrams will join in for this show, which will include a Q & A moderated by John Corbett. See also Wednesday. a 7 PM, Stop Smiling HQ, 1371 N. Milwaukee, 773-342-1124, free with RSVP to rsvp@stopsmilingonline.com. FA

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