Fred Anderson was born on March 22, 1929 in Monroe, Louisiana and learned to play the saxophone by himself when he was a teenager. Moving with his family to Evanston, Illinois in the 1940s he studied music formally at the Roy Knapp Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois and had a private teacher for a short time.
He was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and an important member of the musical collective. In the early 1960s Fred formed his own group and performed his original compositions with drummer Vernon Thomas, bassist Bill Fletcher, and his partner for many years, trumpeter Billy Brimfield.
During this period he recorded several notable avant garde albums as a sideman with saxophonist Joseph Jarman, As If It Were the Seasons and Song For which included one of his composition Little Fox Run. By 1972 he put together the Fred Anderson Sextet, with trombonist George Lewis, reedist Douglas Ewart, bassist Felix Blackman, drummer Hamid Drake and Iqua Colson on vocals. Throughout the Seventies he toured Europe, recorded in Austria, and recorded his first record as leader, Another Place in Germany.
He opened the short-lived performance-workshop space Birdhouse in honor of Charlie Parker, and in 1983 took over ownership of the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, which quickly became a center for the city’s jazz and experimental music scenes. The club expanded and relocated in the summer of 2006. Before that, his eclectic Beehive bar in west Chicago was a draw where musicians from around the world drank beer and played, mostly for each other.
Though remaining active as a performer, Anderson rarely recorded for about a decade beginning in the mid-1980s but by the Nineties he resumed a more active recording schedule, both as a solo artist, and as a collaborator with younger performers. He mentored a host of young musicians not limited to Hamid Drake, Harrison Bankhead, David Boykin, Nicole Mitchell, Justin Dillard, Aaron Getsug, Josh Abrams, Fred Jackson, Jr., George Lewis, Karl E. H. Seigfried, Isaiah Sharkey, and Isaiah Spencer.
Chicago avant-garde tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, who was rooted in the swing and hard bop idioms but incorporated innovations from free jazz, passed away on June 24, 2010.
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Gene Taylor was born Calvin Eugene Taylor on March 19, 1929 in Toledo, Ohio. Beginning his career in Detroit, Michigan he worked with Horace Silver from 1958 until 1963, then joined the Blue Mitchell Quintet, with whom he recorded and performed until 1965.
From 1966 until 1968, he toured and recorded with Nina Simone, including a Taylor composition she recorded titled Why? (The King of Love is Dead), written following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He then began teaching music in New York City public schools.
Working with Judy Collins from 1968 until 1976, Gene made numerous television appearances accompanying Simone and Collins. He went on to record with Junior Cook, Barry Harris, Coleman Hawkins, Junior Mance, Eddie Jefferson, Eric Kloss and Duke Pearson.
Double-bassist and songwriter Gene Taylor never led a recording session before passing away on December 22, 2001 in Sarasota, Florida where he had been living since 1990.
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Fumio Karashima was born on March 9, 1948 in Oita, Japan and began playing the piano at the age of three. He attended Kyushu University where his father was a music teacher.
He moved to New York City in 1973, staying for one year before returning to Japan. Back home, in 1975 he joined drummer George Ohtsuka’s band. In 1980 Fumio joined Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine, a relationship that lasted for five years, and included four tours of Europe and the United States.
Switching his playing direction to being principally a solo pianist, however, he also led a quintet from 1988 to 1991. During the 1990s he frequently toured internationally. Pianist Fumio Karashima passed away from cancer at age 68 on February 24, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.
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Roy Williams was born on March 7, 1937 in Bolton, Lancashire, England and began his career as a trombonist during the British trad jazz movement of the 1950s. He played with trumpeter Mike Peters and clarinetist Terry Lightfoot in the early Sixties, then joined trumpeter Alex Welsh’s Dixieland outfit in 1965, replacing Roy Crimmins. While with Welsh, he played with visiting American jazz players as Wild Bill Davison, Bud Freeman, and Ruby Braff.
Williams left Welsh in 1978 and joined Humphrey Lyttlelton’s band, staying with the latter for four years. In the ’80s he began working freelance and soon became a first call trombone playing with clarinetist Peanuts Hucko, tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, trumpeter Bent Persson and clarinetist John Barnes. He performed with The World’s Greatest Jazz Band.
Among Roy’s recordings are Gruesome Twosome on the Black Lion label, and Interplay for Sine Records, both with Barnes. In 1998 he co-led a swing-oriented quintet date with saxophonist Danny Moss titled Steamers! on the Nagel-Heyer label. Though not as active as he was up through the Nineties, trombonist Roy Williams won numerous jazz polls, toured Europe and the United States and remains a popular presence when he’s on the British mainstream jazz scene.
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Ralph Pena was born February 24, 1927 in Jarbidge, Nevada and started out playing baritone saxophone and tuba before switching to the bass. At age 15 he began playing professionally with Jerry Austin from 1942 to 1944. He went to college in San Francisco and became a fixture in the West Coast jazz scene.
Among his many associations were Nick Esposito, Art Pepper, Vido Musso, Cal Tjader, Billy May, Barney Kessel, Stan Getz, Charlie Barnet, Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, Buddy DeFranco, Bob Brookmeyer. In the 1960s, Pena worked with Ben Webster, George Shearing, Frank Sinatra, Joe Pass, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day and many others. He recorded and released a couple of albums with Pete Jolly between 1958 and 1962.
Bassist Ralph Pena, who lead one record session, he did lead his own groups on an occasional basis before his early death at age 42 on May 20, 1969 in Mexico City, Mexico.
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