SOUTH LOOP — As work continues on Fred Anderson Park, a parcel of greenspace on Wabash Avenue at 16th Street, neighborhood groups are sponsoring a concert to christen the space with the late saxophonist's favorite music.
Ari Brown, a longtime friend and colleague of Anderson, who died in 2010, will lead a jazz trio for two sets at a free concert in the park from 1-4 p.m. Sept. 21. The trio includes Yosef Ben Israel on bass and Avreeayl Ra on drums.
True Rock Ministries' gospel choir will open and close the show.
"Ari Brown is one of the better saxophone players in the area," said Andy Pierce, a friend of Anderson's and a supporter of the park involved in its programming as a volunteer.
"He and Fred were friends. ... He played Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge many times. We're just lucky he's available at this date and time to play."
The concert is co-sponsored by Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), the South Loop Dog PAC, Kuumba Renaissance Ltd. and True Rock Ministries, a non-denominational South Loop church, which will sell baked goods and drinks to fund its community center.
The park is currently in development after six years of planning. When lifelong Chicagoan and famed jazz musician Fred Anderson died in June 2010, fans rallied for the park to be named in his honor.
Later plans to add a dog-friendly area and a stage for musical performances prompted questions about the park's programming.
"Promise me you'll have jazz music in some way, shape or form," Chicago Park District CEO Michael Kelly said at the August park district meeting after the pooch-friendly area was approved.
Pierce said future concerts would be similar to performances at the jazz-focused Tuesdays on the Terrace series at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
"That's the quality we're shooting for," he said.
Also sponsoring the concert is Birdhouse Inc., a non-profit corporation established by Anderson in 1977 to share his legacy and inspire a new generation of musicians, according to its mission statement.
The tenor saxophonist was the longtime proprietor of the Velvet Lounge, located blocks from the park at 1629 S. Wabash St.
Other improvements planned for Fred Anderson Park include planters, concrete walkways, lighting, benches, picnic tables, shade canopies, ornamental fencing and a community area around the stage in the northwest corner.