Fred Ho (August 10, 1957–April 12, 2014)

The saxophonist, composer, and activist dies after an 8-year battle with cancer. Press release from Big Red Media, Inc.


The saxophonist, composer, and activist dies after an 8-year battle with cancer

Press Release Date: 2014-04-15T04:00:00+00:00

This press release was distributed April 14, 2014, by Big Red Media, Inc.


Fred Ho passed away on the morning of Saturday, April 12, 2014 in his home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, ending an eight year battle with metastatic colorectal cancer. He is survived by his mother, Frances Lu Houn, two sisters, Florence Houn and Flora Houn Hoffman and their families, and his companion, Melanie West. He leaves behind a legendary body of musical work; authored and co-edited several books of political theory and the cultural politics of music, a revolutionary political movement, Scientific Soul Sessions; two big bands; and a distinct Afro-Asian aesthetic.
There will be no funeral; Fred will be cremated and his ashes will be spread over the sea of Kauai, Hawaii, where he will swim forever among the coral reefs. A memorial is being organized for a later date and will be held at BAM Cafe in Brooklyn. A celebration concert with the Eco-Music Big Band will be held later this month on April 23, 2014 with concerts at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm at Ginny's Supper Club at Red Rooster Harlem (212-421-3821).
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, whose music has been hailed as “hard driven and energetic, with a subtle underlying sense of humor” (New York Times) 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, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2009 Harvard Medal of Arts and in 1988 became the youngest person to receive the Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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 co-created with Ruth Margraff 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, and Dragon vs. Eagle in collaboration with Ruth Margraff for the Apollo Theater and Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival.
ho_wicked coverAs 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 Bindman in 1997, Caliente! Circle Around the Sun (featuring Ho's solo baritone saxophone with poets Magdalena Gomez and Raul Salinas). Additionally, Fred has published several books including his newest Wicked Theory, Naked Practice, a groundbreaking collection of his writings, speeches and interviews from the past 30 years. Fred's recent works include Deadly She-Wolf Assassin at Armageddon! (2013, La MaMa), and Sweet Science Suite (2013, BAM). He was the founder of the Green Monster Big Band, his premiere big band, and the Eco-Music Big Band, a chamber big band that performs his works as well as the works of Cal Massey and emergent 21st century revolutionary big band composers. Both ensembles, now led by Marie Incontrera, are available for bookings.