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Offbeat Magazine: New Orleans Jazz Musician, Composer, Teacher Edward Anderson ’84 Has Died

Author: Geraldine Wyckoff
Photo Credit to Offbeat Magazine

All information derived from Offbeat Magazine article. 

When Edward Anderson, Brother Martin Class of 1984, decided to pursue a career in jazz music, he became engaged in its many facets as a trumpeter, student, composer, educator, producer, arranger, businessman and more. Anderson, a life-long resident of New Orleans, died on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at the age of 54.

The trumpeter was perhaps most widely recognized as the co-leader along with keyboardist Darrell Lavigne of the urban contemporary jazz group Bleu Orleans that they formed in 2000. “We just clicked,” Anderson said of Lavigne in a 2007 interview. He produced and contributed Bleu Orleans’ debut, self-titled album that was released on his own Fertile Crescent Records label as well as follow-ups Bleu 2 and Transformation. Clarinetist Michael White and vocalist Leah Chase also released albums boasting the Fertile Crescent brand.

Anderson was born in Chicago, Illinois, though his family was from the city and he grew up here. As a student at Holy Cross Middle School, he signed up for saxophone though his fate changed when Werlein’s music store delivered a trumpet instead. The young Anderson just went with it. He continued his studies while at Brother Martin High School and then attended Xavier University with an aim of becoming a pharmacist — though a career in music remained foremost on his mind. He decided to follow his passion by heading to the University of New Orleans to study under noted musicians and educators Ellis Marsalis and Harold Battiste and received his undergraduate degree from the institution.

His relationship with Battiste was rekindled when in 1996 Anderson returned to New Orleans after receiving his Master’s degree in Jazz/Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music. He assisted Battiste with the resurrection of his famed record label AFO (All for One). It was an experience that was instrumental and inspirational for Anderson in starting Fertile Crescent. In 2012 Anderson earned a PhD from Louisiana State University.

Clarence Johnson, who was an original member of Bleu Orleans, says that Anderson’s trumpet style typified the adage that a musician’s personality comes out in their playing. “Ed was mild mannered and you truly heard that in his music both as a trumpeter and composer,” Johnson offers. “The cool thing was that the contrast of our styles – mine more aggressive, his laid-back – provided great balance.”

Anderson’s first gigs were playing traditional jazz with Michael White, Wendell Brunious and the Treme Brass Band.

“In reality his interest was in more modern jazz – he never really was a tradition {jazz} musician,” remembers White, who met Anderson at Xavier. “He used to hang around and talk to me about jazz. It was a dominant thing in his life.”

“Ed was always a seeker of the real part of the music – the cultural aspect,” says saxophonist Aaron Fletcher who first played with and ultimately joined Bleu Orleans when Anderson and his family evacuated to Los Angeles following Katrina.

Anderson’s musical journey included time spent as an adjunct professor at Tulane, Delgado and Xavier universities and teaching in the public school system. He also acted as director of jazz programs at Dillard University and the Heritage School of Music. The trumpeter blew at New Orleans jazz clubs like Sweet Lorraine’s, Snug Harbor and the Prime Example with various artists including Delfeayo Marsalis’ Uptown Jazz Orchestra and sitting in with the Jazz Mafia.

“Ed really aspired to be a composer and was a little different than most New Orleans trumpet players,” says Lavigne, adding that Ed thought it was time to unloosen the neckties and get rid of the suits. “We were kind of bucking the trend though the New Orleans influences were still there. Ed was a sweetheart – a teddy bear. He touched a lot of people.”

Services for Edward Anderson will be held on Friday, July 3, 2020 at the Transfiguration of the Lord Catholic Church, 5621 Elysian Field Avenue. Visitation is from 9 am to 11 am followed by a mass. For everyone’s safety, attendees are required to wear face masks and respect social distancing.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made on behalf of Dr. Edward C. Anderson II to: LSU Health Sciences Center – Brain Tumor Initiative: https://give.lsuhealthfoundation.org/bti and Jazz and Heritage Music Relief Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/jazzandheritagespotify.

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