[JPL] Chris Anderson, 81, Influential Jazz Pianist, Is Dead

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 11 21:01:37 EST 2008

February 9, 2008
Chris Anderson, 81, Influential Jazz Pianist, Is Dead 
Chris Anderson, a jazz pianist whose sophisticated and
personal approach to harmony made him a pronounced
influence on many other players, notably Herbie
Hancock, died in Manhattan on Monday. He was 81. 

The cause was complications of a stroke, said Al
Sutton, a longtime friend and archivist of Mr.
Anderson’s recordings, who said that he left no
immediate survivors. 

Mr. Anderson had a thoughtful and rewardingly
deliberative style; he could give the impression of
creating new harmonic sequences in the course of an
improvisation. He often drew his repertory from the
standard songbook, including music by Duke Ellington,
one of the few jazz pianists he claimed as an

Mr. Anderson was born in Chicago with limited vision
and the congenital condition known as brittle bone
disease. By age 20, as a result of cataracts, he was
completely blind. 

By then Mr. Anderson, a self-taught pianist, was
already working steadily in Chicago. His style
endeared him to both visiting luminaries and local
musicians. In 1950, when Charlie Parker played the
Pershing Ballroom, Mr. Anderson was in the band. Mr.
Hancock studied with him as a young man and later
described him as a “master of harmony and

Mr. Anderson settled in New York in 1961 after working
there with the singer Dinah Washington. Within the
next two years he broke both hips, restricting his
ability to work. So his reputation grew mainly among
musicians, including the pianist Barry Harris, who
regularly featured him as a guest in his concerts, and
the drummer Billy Higgins, with whom he would
eventually record.

Mr. Anderson made just a handful of albums, and some
of these — on the Alsut label, set up by Mr. Sutton
for this purpose — were not widely distributed. But
his sporadic appearances, usually in a solo or duo
setting, drew followers as well as friends. 


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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