A pair of horn players named Ken Anderson have been racking up impressive credits since the
early '90s, and have more in common than just their names. The Chicago trumpeter most often credited as Kenny Anderson and the busy session saxophonist Kenneth Anderson, sometimes just plain Ken Anderson, have both been strongly associated with funky music styles -- the former with Chicago blues, the latter with the soul side of the pop music toast. But both are also heavily involved with Latin music. Kenny Anderson, in fact, has pulled off a transition from being known as a blues and rhythm & blues section man to grabbing the first chair in salsa bands, a musical transition that means it is he, and not some electric guitar string bender, who has to hit all the high notes.
In this and many of his other activities, Anderson suits the profile of a Chicago musician that has been established since the early '20s. This city's players have always found their way into at least a few different styles of music, all depending on how busy they want to be. Thus, Anderson has played behind intense bluesmen such as Luther Allison and Mighty Joe Young, as well as participating in the modern jazz explorations of fellow trumpeter Malachi Thompson. A member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Thompson utilized Anderson as part of his group entitled Malachi Thompson's Africa Brass, named after the important John Coltrane big-band recording. Anderson has also worked with Bill McFarland in that leader's Chicago Horns, and tours regularly with funksters the Ohio Players, a group that specializes in a style that Anderson came up with in one of his first professional gigs. Another funk band based out of Ohio called Slave was first formed in 1975, and Anderson worked with them in the following decade, including a 1983 recording session, one of the trumpeter's earliest.
His salsa and Latin connections include the Orchestra Isla, Hector Silveira Orchestra, and Chuchito Valdés. Anderson also performs and records with the interesting Ensemble Kalinda and a host of Chicago bandleaders such as Jimmy Johnson, Shirley Johnson, Willie Kent, and Tad Robinson. Besides the previously mentioned saxophonist Kenneth Anderson, Chicago itself was the home of yet another player by this name who retired from music in the early '50s. Both younger men could have been happy about this development, since the senior Kenneth Anderson actually handled both trumpet and saxophone, as well as piano, which means he could have whipped any and all players named Ken Anderson with one horn tied behind his back. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi