Fred Ho Collection

A generous friend of HCC library has donated a collection of autographed books, cds, and a DVD featuring the life and work of Fred Ho. This collection will be on display in the reference room.

Fred Ho is an American jazz baritone saxophonist, composer, bandleader, playwright, writer, and social activist. He holds a BA degree in sociology from Harvard University. He is credited with co-founding several Asian American civic groups such as the East Coast Asian Students Union while a student at Harvard, The Asian American Arts Alliance in New York City, The Asian American Resource Center in Boston, and the Asian Improv record label. He is currently battling colon cancer, a journey he writes about in his memoir Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior (Skyhorse Publishing 2011). He lives in Brooklyn.

Black Panther Suite

The Black Panther Suite

By Music and Concept by Fred Ho; Art by Paul Chan

Composer Fred Ho pays tribute to the provocative Black Panther party with a performance of his "Black Panther Suite" co-commissioned in part by the Walker Art Center and funded by the Doris Duke Fund for Jazz and Dance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. In shifting the strategy of the African American struggle in the turbulent 1960s, the openly militant Black Panther party captured the imagination and respect of an entire generation. Now, through the art of music, composer Ho offers a fitting tribute to men and women who saw the assassination of Malcolm X as a wake-up call to stand up for their inherent human rights and face down political oppression at all costs.

 
The Sweet Science Suite

The Sweet Science Suite

By Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band

Subtitled: A Scientific Soul Music Honoring Of Muhammad Ali.

"During the war against advanced colo-rectal cancer (from 2006), which included two primary tumors and two recurrences, Fred Ho, hammered by massive chemo and radiation, found inspiration in the fight for his life from watching movies of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.

Ali's bold, militant, defiant and spirited resistance to the forces of American racism, combined with his Žlan, grace and humor (both poetical and personal), his indisputable athletic abilities and genius, and the inspiration to the world's peoples (especially the oppressed) and their embrace of him, served as constant inspiration to Fred Ho. During one of his recovery periods, Ho decided to compose a work for his Green Monster Big Band to honor The Greatest.

An added two-track bonus on this recording include the Jacob Epstein arrangement of Ellington's classic In A Sentimental Mood, now re-titled by Fred Ho as In A Pan African Mood, an evocation and conjuring to mother Africa and its cultural heritage as the source for anti-imperialist and anti-technocentric inspiration. The second bonus track features Persian American vocalist Haleh Abghari and baritone saxophonist Fred Ho employing esoteric and extended techniques for both, on the Ho composed works based the James Tate poem "Teaching the Ape to Write Poems." "-Mutable Music

 
Turn pain into power

Turn pain into power

By Fred Ho and the Afro Asian Music Ensemble

This album is an excellent example of what Fred Ho does best -- and worst. Ho's music on this disc is formally complex, rhythmically varied, and emotionally compelling; his composition and band-leading skills cannot be praised too highly. He writes tonally, for the most part, with infusions of the blues and various folk music. Ho's sound is sax-centric. His primary sax section -- Sam Furnace on alto, Allen Won on tenor, and Ho on baritone -- works together hand-in-glove; the band is a descendent of Charles Mingus' late-'50s and early-'60s ensembles (particularly the latter's group with Booker Ervin and John Handy). The rhythm section swings freely, yet plays down Ho's difficult forms with aplomb. Ho's imagination is vast, and his leadership skills must be strong; it's unusual to hear jazz that so successfully combines freedom and precision. The group plays like a band, not a collection of freelancers. Ho also writes for voice, which is the downside of this music, for his texts are seldom artful -- especially those he pens himself. Indeed, they are frequently embarrassingly heavy-handed. It's difficult to criticize, in a way, for his musical settings are so natural; he has a definite gift for something that resembles jazz opera or cantata. The leftist political lyrics tend to be blunt and without grace (though not without worth, it should be added; they're moving in their way). Let Ho put away his poet's quill and give him a first-rate librettist, and he's liable to create something special. His compositions for small jazz ensemble are remarkable enough in themselves. ~ Chris Kelsey, All Music Guide

 
Wicked theory, naked practice

Wicked theory, naked practice

By Diane C. Fujino (Editor)

A leading Asian American artist and activist on the explosive intersection of politics and music. For more than three decades, Fred Ho has been a radical artist and activist. As a composer and saxophonist, he is famed for creating music that fuses Asian and African traditions. The influence of the Black Power and Black Arts movements inspired him to become one of the leading radical Asian American activist-artists. Wicked Theory, Naked Practice is a groundbreaking collection of Ho's writings, speeches, and interviews. 

 
Raw Extreme Manifesto

Raw Extreme Manifesto

By Fred Ho with Peter Lew

A guide to adhering to a raw food diet draws on the author's foray into the lifestyle following a series of health issues and provides twenty-five recipes to get started.

 
Diary of a radical cancer warrior

Diary of a radical cancer warrior : fighting cancer and capitalism at the cellular level

By Fred Ho

When American saxophonist and social activist Fred Ho was diagnosed with stage 3b colo-rectal cancer in 2006 he underwent immediate surgery to remove the tumor and began preparing for chemotherapy. Within days his friends mobilized to arrange grocery deliveries, transport, companionship, and housekeeping duties-they called themselves "Warriors for Fred."

Fred chose to write his astonishing cancer memoir as a diary, acknowledging that all the greatest warriors from Sun Tzu to swordsman Murasashi to Bruce Lee wrote daily diaries because warfare against a most formidable enemy will be won, ultimately, on the philosophical level. With incredibly detailed entries Fred talks frankly about his battle-his meticulous research, his various treatments, his successes, and his failures. Together, he and his loved ones discuss plans for future artistic projects: a new opera on Antony and Cleopatra, a project with a native Alaskan totem carver, and an underwater ballet for synchronized swimmers. He learns to find joy in the simple things: the beauty of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a fresh pork bun, or a night of Battlestar Galactica on DVD. Above all, we learn what it means to truly live in the present-through Fred's unflinching description of the effects of colon cancer-and about his search not just for "a cure" in a medical sense, but for true healing. For Fred, this includes understanding the way of the warrior-one who fights for beauty, justice, health, equity, and sustainability.

 
Afro Asia

Afro Asia

By Fred Ho and Bill V. Mullen (Editors)

A collection of writing on the historical alliances, cultural connections, and shared political strategies linking African Americans and Asian Americans.

 
Celestial Green Monster

Celestial Green Monster

By Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band

Asian-American baritone saxophonist Fred Ho has been a champion of freedom and expressionism in modern creative jazz for some time. A continuing battle with cancer has inspired him to assemble the Green Monster Big Band, with reference to the famed left-field wall at Fenway Park in Boston, but more directly related to the huge sound and diverse ideas this juggernaut ensemble represents. Ho is influenced by the '60s big bands, television or movie themes, and the psychedelic rock he grew up with, all present on this ambitious program. He's recruited heavyweight peers like saxophonists Bobby Zankel, Jim Hobbs, Salim Washington, and Hafez Modirzadeh, trumpeter Stanton Davis and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, contrabass trombonist Earl McIntyre, bassist Wes Brown, electric guitarist Mary Halvorson, and pianist Art Hirahara, among others to execute his larger-than-life vision. In the extreme at nearly 40 minutes total, "The Struggle for a New World Suite" in seven movements evokes a ton of emotional and rhythmic discourse, starting out sounding like "Smoke on the Water," with curious under-the-surface moods, probing funk, nice jazz, swirling horns in odd meters, stealth or deliberate casts, a free piece subtitled "Guerillas Gone Wild," and ends in a tango inference. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is less pronounced but punchy in five parts, with English and Persian lyrics, and the kind of distant organ or large horn insurgency you'd expect in a jazz interpretation of the Iron Butterfly magnum opus. A short and delightful "Spiderman Theme" contrasts, but the remaining tracks "Liberation Genesis" and "Blues to the Freedom Fighters" show more of Ho's intertwining of his compositional concepts with the great ability of his sidemen to solo. There's so much music here that it staggers the imagination, but give it a try and don't be afraid of this green monster, as it's a fairly friendly one, if a bit imposing. ~ Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide 

 

The Music of Cal Massey A Tribute

By Fred Ho and Quincy Saul

Calvin Massey (1928-1972) is virtually unknown with the exception of both highly knowledgeable jazz scholars and a small coterie of illustrious musicians who remain alive and were immensely indebted to Massey's musical influence and mentorship. Massey was a father figure and close friend to many of the greatest jazz musicians of the post-World War era until his early death in 1972. Massey was a trumpeter, but was most noted as a composer of magisterial works, of which his epic opus was The Black Liberation Movement Suite, an extended work of nine movements. Until now, the work had never been recorded in its entirety. Cal Massey ranked among the greatest jazz composers of the 20th century, included with Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Sun Ra. 'The Black Liberation Movement Suite' is one of the undiscovered gems of an epic jazz extended work. It perhaps may be regarded through the exposure of this recording release as one of the greatest jazz suites of the 20th century, joining 'Mingus Epitaph,' 'Let 'My Children Music ' and 'The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady,' the major Ellington suites and extended form works (the 'Sacred Concerts,' 'The Liberian Suite,' 'The Drum is a Woman,' etc.), Oliver Nelson's 'The Afro-American Suite,' and the varying cosmo-dramas of Sun Ra. While of considerable musical and artistic grandeur as these other great extended works, 'The BLM Suite' is also a work of considerable socio-political significance, commissioned by the Black Panther Party and musically and ideologically expressing the revolutionary upsurge of the Black Liberation struggle in the U.S. during the late-1960s. Three other Massey compositions are featured herein. 'Quiet Dawn' was composed for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. 'Goodbye Sweet Pops' is an homage to Louis Armstrong. Finally, 'The Cry of My People' epitomizes Cal's compositional energy for combining the soulfulness of spiritual-like melody with bold and complex harmonic structures.

 

Year of the Tiger

By Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band

Baritone saxophonist Fred Ho continues to develop a unique repertoire, reshaping cartoon theme songs, classic rock and pop and writing original compositions for large ensemble. Of those three areas of repertory, his own music sounds the strongest.

The Office of the Arts at Harvard commissioned "Take the Zen Train." This six-movement piece tips its hat to Duke Ellington after it has refracted his influence through Charles Mingus' Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Dissonant chords start fires that Ho, Hafez Modirzadeh (tenor sax) and Jim Hobbs (alto sax) stoke with aggressive solos. Lush harmonies break the tension and countermelodies in 11/4 create suspense. Two additional originals effectively employ adult and children's (!) choirs, but within distinct contexts: One combines Chinese folk music and melodies evoking the Art Ensemble of Chicago; the other is an operatic piece worthy of any strong new-music ensemble.

Ho's interpretations yield more of a mixed bag. He captures the big-band charge of "The Jonny Quest Theme." In a tribute to Michael Jackson, "This Place Hotel" and "Bad" both play up the soulful undercurrent that always drove the singer's music. "Thriller" unfortunately switches out Vincent Price's original monologue for one about consumer culture, delivered with all the punctuation of a cartoon villain who never met a syllable he couldn't stretch out. Ho's take on Jimi Hendrix falls short in trying to transpose the guitarist's original fury to big band. Concluding "Purple Haze" with a rant about the Matrix doesn't help either. Here's hoping his next release leans more on originals. ~ Mike Shanley.

 

Snake-Eaters

By Fred Ho and the Saxophone Liberation Front

Snake-Eaters debuts Fred Ho's Saxophone Liberation Front, featuring composer Ho on baritone saxophone and Hafez Modirzadeh (soprano), Bobby Zankel (alto) and Salim Washington (tenor).

 
 
Ask the Librarian