A vitally important release in Atavistic's Unheard Music Series of reissues and new releases, the Fred Anderson Quartet's The Milwaukee Tapes, Vol. 1, catches the tenor saxophonist working in his familiar quartet setting on a beautifully recorded (on an eight track mobile studio at a Milwaukee nightclub in early 1980) live set made right before Anderson stopped recording entirely and severely curtailed his live gigs for a good decade and a half. Anderson and compatriots (longtime trumpeter Billy Brimfield, bassist Larry Hayrod, and drummer Hamid Drake) are at the top of their game singly and collectively. Drake and Hayrod provide a solid, occasionally tempestuous underpinning for Anderson and Brimfield's lyrical solos on the opening "A Ballad for Rita"; Brimfield in particular sounds like he's simultaneously channeling both the moody Miles Davis of Sketches of Spain and the don't-mess-with-me antagonism of the Agharta era. "Black Women" and "The Bull" sound like they were influenced by Charles Mingus' days with Roland Kirk in his front line, while "Bombay (Children of Cambodia)" -- complete with a very ESP-Disk tabla part by Drake -- and the Albert Ayler-esque "Planet E" recall the glory days of the birth of the AACM.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
feat: Fred Anderson