The Fierceness of Fred Ho.

15 Apr

The Fierceness of Fred Ho

Out of the corner of my eye in my busy past couple of days I noticed a tweet informing me that the baritone sax master Fred Ho had died.  I felt a pang of sadness as I fleetingly computed what I knew about the man; that I’d once heard magnificent, rapturous music emanating from a neighboring rehearsal studio at Complete Music Services in Brooklyn and had gone to peek and discovered that it was Fred Ho rehearsing his orchestra.  My friend Joseph Yoon was in the studio; he was working with Mr. Ho in a managerial capacity and introduced us.  Fred Ho was beautiful, smiling with a warm handshake and clad in a fantastic, flamboyant outfit fit for an emperor.  I was immediately enamored and told Joseph I’d love to get some lessons from him, but Joseph told me Mr. Ho was fighting cancer and wasn’t currently teaching. The gig I was rehearsing for was the same night as his, but I resolved to check out his music, which I proceeded to not get around to doing for the next couple of years during which time I picked up piecemeal snippets of information about his activism and eschewal of social media.  Upon learning of his death I’m left with a mental sketch of a noble master who was living under my nose and a hope that, having been deeply moved by the video attached to his New York Times obituary, that I will finally get around to learning more about the music and life of this baritone saxophone master.  I’m reminded that while as musicians we almost universally, as far as I can tell, look to our forebears, there are masters living and working among us whose work needn’t be enjoyed posthumously.  I’m really sorry I never got to see Fred Ho play his saxophone.  I’m glad his suffering is over and I hope his spirit will perpetually enjoy generations of celebration and acclaim.


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