Saturday, January 4, 2014

FRED HO: Visionary Musician Warrior

Fred Ho is a one-of-a-kind revolutionary Chinese American baritone saxophonist, composer, writer, producer, political activist and leader of several music ensembles. For two decades, he has innovated a new American Multicultural Music embedded in the swingingest, most soulful and transgressive forms of African American music with the influences of Asia and the Pacific Rim.

As Larry Birnbaum writes in Down Beat "Fred Ho's style is a genre unto itself, a pioneering fusion of free-jazz and traditional Chinese music that manages to combine truculence and delicacy with such natural ease that it sounds positively organic."

Ho is a prodigious composer, having recorded more than fifteen albums as a leader and written several critically acclaimed operas, music/theater epics, cutting edge multimedia performance works, scores, oratorios and a martial arts ballet. He has received numerous grants and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Apollo Theatre Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, NY State Council on the Arts, Chamber Music America and World Music Institute among others to present his vision of music and the arts. Fred Ho has been the subject of several scholarly works while other distinctions include a 1996 American Book Award and becoming the youngest person to receive the Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award.

Recent commissions include the nationally toured and celebrated Voice of the Dragon; Josephine Baker's Angels from the Rainbow for Imani Winds; Suite for Matriarchal Shaman Warriors for percussion ensemble IIIZ+ and a Jazz Commissioning Award from Chamber Music America to compose Suite Sam Furnace. Other unique compositions include the music/theater project Deadly She-Wolf Assassin at Armageddon!, a martial arts sword epic paying homage to manga and samurai film classics, the opera Mr. Mystery: The Return of Sun Ra to Save Planet Earth with libretto by Quincy Troupe, andDragon vs. Eagle for the Apollo Theater and Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival.

As a musical leader, Fred Ho founded the Afro Asian Music Ensemble in 1982 and Monkey Orchestra in 1990, co-founded the Brooklyn Sax Quartet with David Bindmanin in 1997, Caliente! Circle Around the Sun (featuring Ho's solo baritone saxophone with poets Magdalena Gomez and Raul Salinas), and the Green Monster Big Band.

Additionally, Fred has published several books including his "Wicked Theory, Naked Practice," a groundbreaking collection of his writings, speeches and interviews from the past 30 years. In 2012, three of his albums were awarded prizes by the New York City Jazz Record. Fred's recent multimedia big band performance works include Deadly She-Wolf Assassin at Armageddon! (2013, La MaMa), and Sweet Science Suite (2013, BAM).

Fred has kept up his incredible career while also suffering from what is now stage 4b metastatic cancer, a struggle he chronicles in his book: "Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior: Fighting Cancer and Capitalism at the Cellular Level", published by Skyhorse Press, 2011.

See the New York Times interview and review of his latest epic performance work here: "Boxer's Tale, Fashioned by a Figher: Fred Ho and the 'Sweet Science Suite'":

He currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

For more about Fred Ho, visit his website at

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