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Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band: Year of the Tiger

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Baritone saxophonist Fred Ho continues to develop a unique repertoire, reshaping cartoon theme songs, classic rock and pop and writing original compositions for large ensemble. Of those three areas of repertory, his own music sounds the strongest.

The Office of the Arts at Harvard commissioned “Take the Zen Train.” This six-movement piece tips its hat to Duke Ellington after it has refracted his influence through Charles Mingus’ Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Dissonant chords start fires that Ho, Hafez Modirzadeh (tenor sax) and Jim Hobbs (alto sax) stoke with aggressive solos. Lush harmonies break the tension and countermelodies in 11/4 create suspense. Two additional originals effectively employ adult and children’s (!) choirs, but within distinct contexts: One combines Chinese folk music and melodies evoking the Art Ensemble of Chicago; the other is an operatic piece worthy of any strong new-music ensemble.

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