Fred Ho | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Composer and saxophonist, self-styled cultural revolutionary, former construction worker, Chinese American who joined the Black Muslims at 16, Harvard sociology major who now researches Asian folk songs as well as historical oppression--Fred Ho doesn't fit any stereotype you can conjure. His friend and champion Amiri Baraka writes that Ho's music "is part of the new tongue of anti-oppression," but you don't need even that description to appreciate the phrase "Bamboo That Snaps Back." That's the title of Ho's epic multimedia work dedicated to the experience of various Asian groups--Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos--in the U.S. Sometimes such insistence on blending musical and political messages can be a smoke screen for the untalented, but not here. Ho is a gifted and inventive baritone saxophonist; what's more, his music manages to be committed (even angry) without rancor, instructive without cant. He makes his Chicago debut without the supporting members of his Asian American Art Ensemble; a cappella, he'll reinterpret Oriental folk songs from his work-in-progress called "The Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of the Monkey King Where No White Man Has Gone Before!" Saturday, 8 PM, and Sunday, 7 PM, Southend Musicworks, 1313 S. Wabash; 939-2848.

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