During the war against advanced colo-rectal cancer (from 2006), which included two primary tumors and two recurrences, Fred Ho, hammered by massive chemo and radiation, found inspiration in the fight for his life from watching movies of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Ali s bold, militant, defiant and spirited resistance to the forces of American racism, combined with his élan, grace and humor (both poetical and personal), his indisputable athletic abilities and genius, and the inspiration to the world s peoples (especially the oppressed) and their embrace of him, served as constant inspiration to Fred Ho. During one of his recovery periods, Ho decided to compose a work for his Green Monster Big Band to honor The Greatest. The Sweet Science Suite is a musical evocation of that mojo conjured through Afro Asian scientific soul music, combining the swing of jazz and American and Asian boxing, martial arts and hand-to-hand combat feels and forms, with the elasticity of temperament and pitch intrinsic to the raw, folk musical characteristics of AfroAmerica and much of the Asiatic world. During Ali s match against the juggernaut George Foreman in Zaire during the mid-1970s, Ali s employ of the rope-a-dope was the quintessential methodology of the trickster, intrinsic to many Asian martial arts, such as JuJitSu, of turning the strength of one s opponent against them. This work of five movements spans the musical geography of the Black and Yellow worlds, just as Ali spanned those two worlds in his boxing training and abilities, and in turn inspired and influenced martial forms and techniques, including the footwork of the late great martial arts innovator and iconoclast, Bruce Lee. An added two-track bonus on this recording include the Jacob Epstein arrangement of Ellington s classic In A Sentimental Mood, now re-titled by Fred Ho as In A Pan African Mood, an evocation and conjuring to mother Africa and its cultural heritage as the source for anti-imperialist and anti-technocentric inspiration. The second bonus track features Persian American vocalist Haleh Abghari and baritone saxophonist Fred Ho employing esoteric and extended techniques for both, on the Ho composed works based the James Tate poem Teaching the Ape to Write Poems.
The Sweet Science Suite
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