Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band
Fred Ho always seems to be up to something interesting. He is a very talented jazz composer and he plays reeds in a very compelling way. So when he formed the Green Monster Big Band, populated it with stellar players like Bobby Zankel, Salim Washington, Stanton Davis, Taylor Ho Bynam, Earl MacIntyre (my apologies for leaving some out on this listing. . . not enough space), then fronts the big band with his baritone and his compositions and arrangements, well, you know something is a'bound to be happening. And with this debut album Celestial Green Monster (Mutable Music), there certainly is!
First off, there's a sense of humor. To start off with rousing versions of the "Spiderman Theme" and "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is a touch of brilliance but also of whimsy. And perhaps the most funny thing about it is that the music completely works! Kudos, by the way, to Mary Halverson and her guest guitar solo on the Iron Butterfly icon.
The CD goes on from there for some more "serious" music. We hear powerful renditions of three Fred Ho charts, one a long and ambitious "The Struggle for a New World Suite."
This is important modern big band music, superbly performed. I hope there are lots more releases from them. But even with this first, there is another feather in Fred Ho's very hip hat.