Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Fred Ho and the Monkey Orchestra: Monkey: Part Two

I’m honored to discuss this CD. I found Fred Ho’s Monkey: Part One a glorious surprise, and this second section of his musical setting for the trickster tale is no disappointment. The ensemble’s personnel has few changes, notably Francis Wong as tenorist; but its spirit remains dramatic, flexible and visionary as Ho achieves tremendous range from trombone, three saxophones (including his own baritone), bass and drums, and several performers on Chinese traditional instruments. I associate this music’s programmatic essences, its pungent lyricism, its humorous play in sound and song contradistinct to Chinese singing for the western stage, and its sheer drive with Mingus’ Black Saint…and a continuum of Weill and Bernstein. The CD’s contents are too multi-faceted for a short review. Be aware that it concludes the suite by offering Acts 2 and 4. I don’t know why the music had to be packaged this way, but I hope Koch Jazz will do Fred Ho justice and reissue this wonderful effort in its proper sequence.

Originally Published