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Wicked Theory, Naked Practice

A Fred Ho Reader

2009
Author:

Fred Ho
Foreword by Robin D.G. Kelley
Afterword by Bill V. Mullen
Edited by Diane C. Fujino

Wicked Theory, Naked Practice

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.

Fred Ho’s Wicked Theory, Naked Practice is an important work, with critical understanding of the most advanced arts/cultural, political social wave of the last part of the 20th century and the actuality of a new reality and promise for the 21st century, his own errors notwithstanding.

Amiri Baraka

For more than three decades, Fred Ho has been a radical artist and activist. As a composer and baritone saxophonist, he is famed for creating a new music that fuses Asian and African traditions. The influence of the Black Power and Black Arts movements during his coming of age inspired him to become one of the leading radical Asian American activist–artists.

Ho’s passions for art and justice have always been linked—his music seeks to express his politics, and his activism has injected revolution into his art. Wicked Theory, Naked Practice is a groundbreaking collection of Ho’s writings, speeches, and interviews of the past three decades on topics ranging from Mao to Coltrane, from Sun Ra to selling out, and from fighting oppression to battling cancer. His work insists on connections among creative and artistic processes, political theorization, and activist organizing.

As Robin D. G. Kelley says in the Foreword, “Ho writes, speaks, and plays in order to persuade and inspire, to expose the crimes of the ruling class, and to challenge the status quo so that we imagine a different future.” Through Wicked Theory, Naked Practice, Ho’s contributions merge political and cultural theory, shedding new light on the radical movements of the 1960s and 1970s and revealing the fascinating story behind a prolific and politically engaged artist across all genres.

Wicked Theory, Naked Practice

Fred Ho is a composer, musician, scholar, and activist. He is the leader of the Afro Asian Music Ensemble and Monkey Orchestra. His many recordings include The Black Panther Suite. He is coeditor of Afro Asia: Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections between African Americans and Asian Americans, Sounding Off! Music as Subversion/Resistance/Revolution, and Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America. He was the first Asian American to receive the Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award.

Diane C. Fujino is chair and associate professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Robin D.G. Kelley is professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

Bill V. Mullen is professor of English and director of American studies at Purdue University.

Wicked Theory, Naked Practice

Fred Ho’s Wicked Theory, Naked Practice is an important work, with critical understanding of the most advanced arts/cultural, political social wave of the last part of the 20th century and the actuality of a new reality and promise for the 21st century, his own errors notwithstanding.

Amiri Baraka

Wicked Theory, Naked Practice is both the remarkable autobiography of writer/saxophonist/activist Fred Ho, as well as an impressive treatise on black musicians and jazz that touches on every possible topic from Cal Massey to current Asian American musicians and the sixties movement.

Yuri Kochiyama

Fred Ho writes as a revolutionary Asian American artist-activist for whom his music and his politics are inseparable parts of his identity. All his life, he has been seeking to navigate between the Scylla of a Marxist universalism that ignores oppressed nationalities and the Charybdis of a cultural particularism that ignores the urgency of political action. His search has led him to advocate a struggle for matriarchal socialism. This is urgent reading for all serious activists.

Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

There are terrific things here, useful and valid to anyone who cares about creative music.

Jazz Journal

Anyone interested in the nexus of music, identity, and politics will find Ho’s book an important case study, not only in detailing the rise of one activist musician/composer/author/producer, but in glimpsing the influences that shaped a generation of Asian American artists in their quest to create cultural forms that gave voice to their newly empowered identities and connected them to the liberation struggles of other oppressed populations.

Asian Music

Wicked Theory, Naked Practice

UMP blog - Diary of the Dragon

Fred Ho is a well-known artist, activist, musician, and scholar. He is the leader of the Afro Asian Music Ensemble and Monkey Orchestra, and has been deeply involved in civil rights activism and women's rights activism through avant-garde artistry. He was the first Asian American to receive the Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been fighting colorectal cancer since 2006.

Since January 2011, filmmakers have been documenting his life and interviewing his closest confidants in the attempt to put it all into one documentary film, Diary of the Dragon: The (R)Evolution of Fred Ho. Filmmakers move through his entire life—his early childhood, his music, and his battle with cancer. The group BW Moving Images, who is producing this film, has a nice description of the project, the film, and the group's need for funding here. For further information on the project and its significance, we've interviewed producer Iyanna Jones.

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