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This Music Could Only Happen In America: Fredrick Sanders Live At Jazz, TX

Courtesy photo
Pianist Fredrick Sanders

Growing up in Dallas, pianist Fredrick Sanders heard music all around him—on the block, in church, and at home, where his grandmother would sing to herself while moving about the house.

These were “songs I’d never heard before,” Sanders recalled onstage at Jazz, TX. “After I grew up, I realized these were work songs, and slave hollers. She was one generation out from being a slave.”

Sanders also recalled his grandmother restricting his radio listening to classical music “because that was the only thing that was from God.” But down the street…

“There was a family who had this wonderful entertainment business. The door would open up and I would hear these things … B.B. King, and Bobbly ‘Blue’ Bland, sound really soulful [guitar]. I indulged in all these wonderful sounds!”

"Those are the subtleties of our wonderful root music that we experience here in America," he continued. "And it kind of brings together all these wonderful things that could only happen with slavery, only could happen with people moving across waters and moving their comforts or losing their comforts to have these new experiences. Because now you're putting things that are connected with the soul, which contains your mind, wielding your emotions, and in that we have human nature and all these ideas, and all these things that we describe."

Sanders brought his quartet of piano, bass, drums and trombone in 2019 to Jazz, TX for a set that included original tunes and a bebop rave-up from the Bud Powell/Charlie Parker playbook. Give a listen in the player below.

Nathan has been with TPR since 1995, when he began working on classical music station KPAC 88.3 FM, as host of “Tuesday Night at the Opera.” He soon learned the ropes on KSTX 89.1 FM, and volunteered to work practically any shift that came his way, on either station. He worked in nearly every capacity on the radio before moving into Community Engagement, Marketing, and Digital Media. His reporting and criticism has been honored by the Houston Press Club and Texas Associated Press.