Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Ho, Fred (Fred Wei-han Houn)

Ho, Fred [Fred Wei-han Houn], baritone saxophonist, composer, author; b. Palo Alto, CA, 10 August 1957. His name was legally changed to Ho in 1988. He grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. His father is Franklin Houn, born April 10, 1923. His mother is Frances Lu Houn, born June 25, 1926. They immigrated to the USA from china in the mid-1940s.  His siblings are Florence Houn-Goldberger, b. Dec. 27, 1958 and Flora Houn-Hoffman, b. April 8, 1964.  Fred got a B.A., Sociology, Harvard University, 1979. He studied with Charlie Vatalero, sax, 1972-3; Jacob Epstein, sax/arranging, 1973-5; Archie Shepp (ensemble only), 1974-5; Frederick Tillis (arranging only), 1975; self-taught composer; and Hamiet Bluiett, bari sax for 3 months in fall of 1981, learned altissimo from him.

Ho has written over a half dozen operas, music/theater epics, cutting edge multimedia performance works, martial arts ballet, and oratorios.  In the mid-1980s, Ho created the Asian Pacific American performance art trilogy, Bamboo that Snaps Back, presented at the Whitney Museum and many venues across the U.S., and for which the music/spoken word score was released on Finnadar/WEA records.   Ho wrote the first contemporary Chinese American opera, A Chinamanis Chance, staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, featuring a bilingual libretto (Chinese and English) and which signaled his ground-breaking combination of traditional Chinese and western instrumentation.

The Afro Asian Music Ensemble, founded in 1982, has recorded more than ten recordings. He has been a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, an Artist Fellow at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program; resident artist at the Civitelli Ranieri center in Umbria, Italy; and resident scholar and visiting artist at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. 

As a life-long activist, Ho helped to found the East Coast Asian Students Union, the Asian American Resource Workshop, the Asian American Arts, among many others. He is also an author of books and many articles. Fred Ho resides in Brooklyn, New York.  He has never married because he doesn't believe in marriage, monogamy or the nuclear family per matriarchal socialist beliefs.

The bands he has led include the Afro Asian Music Ensemble, founded 1982, the Monkey Orchestra, founded 1980, the Afro Asian Arts Dialogue with poet Kalamu Yu Salaam, founded 1991, Asian American Art Ensemble, 1981-1988 and the Brooklyn Sax Quartet, co-founded with David Bindman, 1997. He has been a sideman in the Charlie Persip Superband, 1982-1987, Archie Shepp Attica Blues Big Band, 1985-1986, Gil Evans Orchestra, 1987, Change of the Century Orchestra, 1987, and the Julius Hemphill Sextet, 1993.
Fred Ho and The Afro Asian Music Ensemble includes Sam Furnace (alto sax), David Bindman (tenor sax), royal hartigan (multiple percussion) [Note to copy editor: no caps!], Warren Smith, vibraphone, marimba and percussion, and Wes Brown, acoustic and electric bass, keyboard, percussion and African flute. When Brown is not available, the group is joined by Ayodele Maakheru (electric bass).

Tomorrow Is Now! (1986); Bamboo That Snaps Back (1987); A Song for Manong (1988); We Refuse to be Used and Abused (1989); The Underground Railroad to My Heart (1994); The Monkey Orchestra: Monkey: Part One (1996), Monkey: Part Two (1997); Afro Asian Music Ensemble: Turn Pain Into Power! (1997); Yes Means Yes, No Means No, Whatever She Says, Wherever She Goes! (1998); Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors (1999); Night Vision: A Third to First World Vampyre Opera (book with double CD, 1999); The Way of the Saxophone (2000); Once Upon a Time in Chinese America: A Martial Arts Ballet and Music/Theater Epic (2001)

Recordings as sideperson:  
Isidro Infante; Charlie Persip Superband; Jon Jang, AsianImprov: Are You
Chinese or Charlie Chan? (1984), The Ballad or the Bullet (1985), Never Give
Up! (1986); Chen Hongyu: Contemporary Compositions Recital by Soprano Chen
Hongyu (1993)

Television broadcasts:  
Many TV appearances, too numerous to cite; Documentary on Maxine Hong Kingston, aired on PBS and video distributed by NAATA (National Asian American Telecommunications Association), 1993.

Unissued recordings:
Recording sessions with Jon Jang, which he owns, never released; never released session of "Shiu Heh Bao (a Chinese love song)" recorded in early 1990s

All Power to the People! The Black Panther Ballet Suite, Innova and Big Red Media, Inc., 2003

Composer (commissions):
Voice of the Dragon 2: Shaolin Secret Stories (sequel to Voice of the Dragon: Once Upon a Time in Chinese AmericaOThe Martial Arts Epic), Caribbean Cultural Center and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, NY, 2002
All Power to the People! The Black Panther Suite (with Live Digital Interact Video Mixing and Martial Arts Ballet), The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, 1999; Northeastern University Center for the Arts, Boston, MA and The Rockefeller Foundation, 2002
Hipster Harvey (saxophone quartet), Brooklyn Academy of Music in celebration of the retirement of Harvey Lichtenstein, Brooklyn, NY, 1999
Night Vision: A New to First World Slaughterhouse Vampyre Opera, Ruth E. Margraff, librettist, The Rockefeller Foundation, 1998, 1999
Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors (opera), Ann T. Greene, librettist, The Mary Flagler Cary Trust and Aaron Davis Hall/City College of New York, New York, NY, 1998; Arizona State University-Tempe Public Events, AZ, 2000
Once Upon a Time in Chinese AmericaOA Martial Arts Ballet and Music/Theater Epic,
World Music Institute, New York State Council on the Arts and The Mary Flagler Cary Trust, New York, NY 1995
The Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of Monkey!, Monkey Orchestra,
Meet the Composer, Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival and The Joseph Papp Public Theater, New York, NY, 1997 and 1995
The White Peril: Too Wrong for Too Long!, Music in Motion and Zeitgeist Ensemble, Fleischer Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA, and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, 1994
Yes Means Yes, No Means No, Whatever She Wears, Wherever She Goes! Suite, Afro Asian Music Ensemble, Brooklyn Womenis Anti-Rape Exchange and WHAM!, National Endowment for the Arts, New York, NY 1993
Contradiction, Please! The Revenge of Charlie Chan, Relache Contemporary Music Ensemble and Meet the Composer, Philadelphia, PA, 1992-1993
Beyond Columbus and Capitalism, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Meet the Composer, San Francisco, CA, 1992
Havoc in Gold Mountain, Music theater, Association of Performing Arts Presenters/Lila Wallace Readers Digest, Boro of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY, 1992
Turn Pain Into Power!, Billingual multimedia oratorio, Brooklyn Art and Culture Association, New York, NY, 1991
A Chinamenis Chance, Afro Asian opera, American Music Center and New York State Council for the Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, NY, 1989
A Song for Manong, Music theater score, Life on the Water, San Francisco, CA, 1988
XX, Solo baritone sax musical theater score for a Genny Lim play, San Francisco, CA, 1986

Works by artist:
He edits the popular and best-selling annual Sheroes/Womyn Warriors calendar.
Ho, ed., Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America, (AK Press, 2000),
The Sheroes Womyn Warriors Calendar, (Autonomedia/Semiotext), published annually since 1998
Sounding Off! Music as Subversion/Resistance/Revolution; co-edited with Ron Sakolsky (Autonomedia/Semiotext, 1995); Winner, American Book Award, 1996
(To be published):
Wicked Theory, Naked Practice: Collected Political, Cultural and Creative Writings by Fred Ho
Afro/Asia: Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections Between African and Asian Americans (co-edited with William Mullen)
Published Articles By Fred Ho:
Many articles also appear in books edited by Fred Ho
Bamboo That Snaps Back!  Resistance and Revolution in Asian Pacific American Working Class and Left-Wing Expressive Culture, Twentieth-Century Americanisms: The Left and Modern Literatures of the United States, edited by William Mullen and Jim Smethurst, North Carolina Press, 2001
New and Experimental Genres in Late 20th Century American Multicultural Music, The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (North America volume), edited by Ellen Koskoff, Garland Publishing, 2001, p. 334-7
The History of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association, H-R AAA Handbook, Harvard University, 2001
Doing It Yourself: Big Red Media, a Composer/Musician-Driven Production Company, American Composers Forum newsletter, Summer 1998, p. 1
Beyond Asian American Jazz: My Musical and Political Changes in the Asian American Movement, Leonardo Music Journal, Vol 9, pp. 45-51, 1999
Fred Ho, Musician and Composer: A Response, Yellow Light: The Flowering of Asian American Arts, ed. by Amy Ling, Temple University Press:  Philadelphia, 1999
Doing It Yourself: Big Red Media, a Composer/Musician-Driven Production Company, American Composers Forum newsletter, Summer 1998
How to Sell But Not Sell Out: Some Personal Lessons from Making a Career as a Subversive and Radical Performing Artist, Movement Research Journal #12, NYC, 1996
What Makes eJazzi the Revolutionary Music of the 20th Century, and Will It Be Revolutionary for the 21st Century?, African American Review, Vol 29, No. 2, 1995
From Banana to Third World Marxist, Boyhood, Growing Up Male: A Multicultural Anthology, ed. By Franklin Abbott, The Crossing Press, 1993, republished by the University of Wisconsin Press, 1998
Asian Americans Are Not Exotic!  Asian American Arts Dialogue, Winter 1993 the same article also appeared in Movement Research Journal #8, NYC, 1994
Marxism and Asian Americans: The Struggle Continues!, Forward Motion Asian Pacific American Special Issue edited by Fred Ho, Meizhu Liu, Ellen Somekawa and Dang Tran, Vol. 11, No. 3, Jamaica Plain, MA, 1992
A Call for Cultural Guerillas: U.S. Imperialism in itis Monopoly Stage and itis Effects on Where American Culture is Going, Movement Research Performance Journal #4, Winter/Spring 1992
Nobody Knows The Trouble Iive Seen: Political Detente Through the Medium of Jazz, Notes From a Work in Progress, The City Sun newspaper, June 19-25, 1991
The Real Next Wave:  Multicultural Artists and Empowerment as Sources for New American Art, Reimaging America: The Arts and Social Change, ed. by Craig Little and Mark OiBrien, New Society Publishers: Philadelphia, PA, 1990
Asian American Music and Empowerment:  Is There Such a Thing as eAsian American Jazzi?i, Views on Black American Music, 17th Annual Black Musicians Conference, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 1989
Tomoe Tana: Keeping Alive Japanese American Tanka, Asian Week newspaper, June 17, 1988
Fred Ho guest edited a special issue of East Wind: Politics and Culture of Asians in America, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1986 for which the following articles were written:  Introduction: The Cutting EdgeoAsian American Creativity and Change; Revolutionary Asian American Art: Tradition and Change, Inheritance and Innovation, Not Imitation! (pp.4-8); An ABC from NYC: eCharliei Chin, Asian American Singer and Songwriter; The Brown Power Poet: Serafin Malay Syquia (1943-1973); Best of the Best: Recent Book and Record Releases

About Fred Ho:
Kathryn Willgress: The Big Bamboo, in: Straight No Chaser, #5 (1989)
Robert Hicks: Coda.Fred Ho, in: Jazziz (Feb.1995)
Kenny Berkowitz: Red Whine. Fred Ho's Roots Radicalism, in: Option (May/Jun.1997)
www.cami.com/special attractions

McKnight Fellowship and the American Composers Forum, 2000
Rockefeller Foundation, Multi-Arts Projects, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1991
Julius Hemphill Jazz Composers Awards, Boston Jazz Composers Alliance, 1998
National Endowment for the Arts, Opera-Musical Theater Fellowship, 1994
National Endowment for the Arts, Music Composition Fellowship, 1993
Honoree, Chinese for Affirmative Action (San Francisco), 1991
American Music Center Copying Assistance Grant, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996
New York Foundation for the Arts Music Composition Fellowship, 1989, 1994
Duke Ellington Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award, 17th Annual Black Musicians Conference, University of Massachusetts, 1988
Peter Ivers Fellowship, Harvard University, 1987
ASCAP Composers Award, 1986-present
Meet the Composer, 1982-present

Contact information:
bigredmedia@earthlink.net and
website: www.bigredmedia.com

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