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Fred Ho Tribute in New Haven on September 17

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Fred Ho Tribute to be Presented in New Haven

By Jacob Epstein

New Haven, CT: The Hartigan Epstein Brown Quartet, an ensemble that creates and performs works inspired by World Cultures and Jazz, will present a tribute to their colleague and collaborator, Fred Ho. Also joining the performance will be Librettist Ann T. Greene and Baritone Saxophonist Benjamin Barson, long time collaborators and colleagues of Mr. Ho and special guests associated with his work.

The presentation will be hosted at: The 9th Note Wednesday, September 17, 2014. 8:00pm - 11:00pm 56 Orange St, New Haven, CT, 06510. 203 691-9918. Reservations for dinner are recommended.

About Fred Ho

Fred Ho was a composer, author, activist and musician. Although often associated with Asian and African culture, jazz, and the baritone saxophone, the scope and impact of his compositions, writings, lectures and performances is vast. He is known as a master of the martial arts, has composed, performed and produced works for opera, dance, chamber and large music ensembles, and established himself as a revolutionary cultural and political theorist with his many plays, books and papers that delve into topics of economics, class struggles and politics. He also designed apparel, many creations of which were worn for casual, business and performance use.

Awards and honors for Mr. Ho include the “Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award," “Harvard Arts Medal" bestowed to him by his Alma Mater in November 2009, and multiple performances of his work, “Fanfare to Stop the Creeping Meatball" as commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. (The work opened performances at the world famous Shed Concert Hall, Ozawa Hall and the Theatre at Tanglewood, during the week of August 4—August 7, 2011.)

Mr. Ho died from metastatic colorectal cancer after a long journey with the disease. He wrote extensively about his experience in his memoir, “Diary of A Radical Cancer Warrior"(SkyHorse Publishing). In the last years of his life Mr. Ho completed the large work, “The Sweet Science Suite: A Scientific Soul Music Honoring of Muhammad Ali," incorporating music, dance and the spoken word during his ordeal with the disease. The work was showcased at the Guggenheim Museum's “Works and Process" series in November 2011, and in its entirety at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in October 2013.

Jon Pareles of the New York Times once praised Fred for his “audacious integrity," a trait that was always evident in his prodigious output that includes multimedia works, scores for dances, oratorios and operas, and several books.

About Ann T. Greene

Ann T. Greene is a poet/librettist, blogger and fiction writer and has published short stories, poetry, opera and dance libretti, lyrics and books. Her work has been anthologized in the US and her theater work has been performed in the US and Europe.

Ms. Greene worked with Mr. Ho as librettist on “Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors" (opera), supported by The Mary Flagler Cary Trust and Aaron Davis Hall/City College of New York, New York, NY, 1998. The opera had its American premiere at Arizona State University-Tempe in 2001.

About Benjamin Barson

Benjamin Barson is a composer, baritone saxophonist, and revolutionary political activist. He had been Fred Ho's Baritone saxophone protégé from 2009 until Mr. Ho's passing in April of 2014, and partnered with Mr. Ho to produce several mixed media musical projects, most recently a tour of Ho's music through Vermont under the banner of Ecosocialism during Black History Month of 2014. Currently he is working to construct a revolutionary self-sufficient gardening project in the city of Pittsburgh, where he resides.

Ben has recorded on the Fred Ho-conceived and produced albums, The Sweet Science Suite: A Scientific Soul honoring of Muhammad Ali (2011), A Tribute to Cal Massey (2011), and is currently working on an album to be released with his own group. More info at Ben-Barson.squarespace.com.

About Hartigan-Epstein-Brown Quartet

The Hartigan-Epstein-Brown ensemble was created to perform traditional and original music inspired by World Music and Jazz. The founders and core ensemble members are Jake Epstein, sax and flute, Wes Brown, bass and royal hartigan, drum set and percussion. Pianist Matan Rubenstein will be joining the group for the Fred Ho Tribute.

Mr. hartigan and Mr. Brown have performed extensively with Mr. Ho over the past several decades. Mr. Epstein and Mr. hartigan first met Mr. Ho in Amherst Massachusetts when, as a high school student, Mr. Ho took baritone sax, theory and composition lessons from Mr. Epstein and participated in music classes and ensembles with Professors Fred Tillis, Max Roach, and Archie Shepp. Mr. hartigan and Mr. Ho's collaborations began during this period back in the early 1970s when they participated in ensembles together.

In 2009, Mr. Ho commissioned Jake Epstein to arrange “In a Sentimental Mood" by Duke Ellington for the “Green Monster Big Band." This was inspired by a performance by Professor Archie Shepp with the Jazz Workshop large ensemble directed by Dr. Frederick Tillis and the Voices of New Africa ensemble led by Dr. Horace Clarence Boyer. Mr. Epstein arranged and conducted the piece with Mr. Shepp as soloist at UMass Amherst in the mid 1970s.

Renamed “In a Pan African Mood" by Mr. Ho for his Green Monster Big Band, the work features extended individual and group improvisation with and without the large ensemble. Featured are trombonist Earl Macintyre baritone saxophonist Benjamin Barson, and baritone saxophonist Fred Ho. Wes Brown performed on bass and royal hartigan performs on drum set and the hourglass-shaped donno drum whose changing tones can reflect language, essential to the culture and communication of many West African peoples.

In a Pan-African Mood, “The Sweet Sciences Suite and other selections by the Green Monster Big Band are available at on-line music outlets.

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