Sunday, March 30, 2008

Remembering Chris Anderson

We throw around terms like “musician’s musician” all the time, but it really did apply to Chris Anderson. The inventive pianist, best known as an early teacher of Herbie Hancock, will be remembered at a memorial in St. Peter’s Monday night at 7:00.

St. Peter’s was the sight for a rather amazing performance by Anderson some years ago. It was a benefit concert for the ailing Billy Higgins, whom Anderson had played with on one of his all too rare recording dates. Anderson was blind and suffered from brittle bone disease, which limited his touring. Getting to hear him take flight was a treat that night, so his colleagues let him keep playing, throwing their schedule out the window.

Given the scarcity of his recordings, I never understood why Inverted Image on Riverside’s Jazzland label has yet to be reissued. With Philly Joe Jones and Walter Perkins sharing the drum chair and Bill Lee (father of Spike) on bass, it is a beautiful trio session that would probably sell well, at least among his many musician admirers.

Those friends include Barry Harris, Richard Wyands, Larry Willis, Harold Mabern, and George Coleman, who will celebrate Anderson’s life and music tomorrow night. There are some Anderson recordings available, which are definitely recommended. However, he was best heard live, so those who heard him that night at St. Peter’s and sometime later at the Jazz Gallery were indeed fortunate.