Anderson, Chris, jazz pianist, composer, singer; b. Chicago, Feb. 16, 1926. Anderson’s offbeat style is little known, but had a major impact on Herbie Hancock, who is said to have studied with him in 1960. A fan of film music as a child, Anderson began to play the family piano at age 10. A few years later, after school, he played the blues in South Side bars. He worked in a record store, where he became excited about Nat Cole, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Nelson Riddle, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel. Due to double cataracts he became progressively blind. At 18 Anderson played with guitarist Leo Blevin, who recommended him to Sonny Stitt. Two years later, around 1946, he played with Charlie Parker and Howard McGhee. By this time he was totally blind. During the 1950s Anderson accompanied Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Gene Ammons, Stan Getz, Johnny Griffin, and Roland Kirk; worked with Wilbur Ware, Clifford Jordan, Von Freeman, George Coleman, and Wilbur Campbell; and mentored pianists Billy Wallace, Harold Mabern, and Hancock. In June 1961 he recorded in N.Y.; probably just after that, he toured for six weeks as accompanist for Dinah Washington. Another health problem, causing fragile bones that often fracture, has kept Anderson from performing on a regular basis. But he has taught privately, and has performed (often on a one night a week basis) as a soloist or in a duo with Larry Ridley, David Williams, Victor Sproles, or Jamil Nasser, among others. During the 1990s, he co-led a quartet with Roni Ben-Hur and, in 1997, appeared at Carnegie Hall with Charlie Haden.
My Romance (Chicago, 1960); Inverted Image (1961); Love Locked Out (1990); Old Friend (1995); Solo Ballads (1997);