Anderson is one of the most versatile and prolific musicians in contemporary jazz. He grew up in Chicago, where he and school friend George Lewis both took up trombone and were drawn into the experimental world of the AACM (the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). In Anderson's playing, the desire to extend his expressive range - trying out new trombone techniques, playing high, fast and with assorted mutes - comes from his AACM experience.
But his raunchy down-home qualities come direct from the Chicago blues. He also has a soft spot for New Orleans marching bands. He played rock and funk at college in Minnesota and California, before joining the New York free jazz scene of the 1970s, playing with Barry Altschul and Anthony Braxton.
He led his own bands from 1979 , founding the successful funk group Slickaphonics a year or two later, and in the 1990s going on to form his Alligatory and Lapis Lazuli bands. He has also worked in a bewildering variety of other contexts, from Swiss pianist George Gruntz's giant concert band, to an all-trombone quartet Slideride, plus a trio with madcap Dutch drummer Han Bennink. The main hallmark of Anderson's work is that however experimental it may be, it is always fun and always entertaining.