If you’re prone to something a bit “outside” the predictable; something that’s gutsy and challenges the status quo on all fronts, this is definitely your cup of jazz tea. Drink up! The liner notes of this Celestial Green Monster CD applaud Fred Ho’s love and dedication to Big Band Music. Fred refers to Big Bands as “the quintessential American Orchestra.” The first number on his CD, Spiderman Theme, is well done, and harmonically lush. It encircles the essence of Big Band “swing” with strong arrangement arms. The next medley of original compositions, (cuts 2 through 6*), explore a number of unexpected techniques and percussive rhythms. Asian and African scales create unique melodies, along with dissonant harmonics. Abraham Gomez-Delgado is featured prominently on vocals. Regrettably, I found his interpretations irritating. On a brighter note, Haleh Abghari sings interesting Persian chants, adding a new flavor atop the big band tracks. Both vocalists are incorporated in this 6-movement concerto, followed by horns that sometimes sound like frenzied zoo animals. Randy Woolf assisted with the arranging. Sixteen minutes long, this piece exhibits artistic freedom and incorporates a number of cultural roots, all neatly packaged under the umbrella of improvisation. There are moments, however, when the music appears more rock than jazz. Cut 7, Liberation Genesis, was written by the baritone saxophone player and bandleader (Fred Ho) back in 1975. No matter. This piece is timeless and interesting. It moves from ballad to swing, than to straight-ahead, warp-speed in the blink of an eye. The Green Monster Big Band obviously is comprised of a number of dedicated and crème de la crème musicians who perform masterfully. Here is a CD you will either love or hate for its extreme and uncompromising musical deviations. It’s an avant-garde work of art, right down to Fred Ho posing nude on the cover, painted green (as in the jolly green giant commercial), with his baritone saxophone appropriately placed. Born and bred in Brooklyn, New York, you can check out more about this unique project at http://www.bigredmediainc.com or http://www.mutablemusic.com.
* Original compositions 2-6 by Doug Ingle of Iron Butterfly, Inc.
written and reviewed by Dee Dee McNeil aka: musicalmemoirs