Fred Ho founded the Afro Asian Music Ensemble in the summer of 1982 in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan. The name of the band comes from the Afro-Asian Unity Conference in 1955 held in Bandung, Indonesia which charted the non-aligned (or "Third World") movement of newly independent countries and national liberation movements predominantly in Asia, Africa, and so-called Latin America. This movement sought an independent path from the then First and Second Worlds, the capitalist West and the former Iron Curtain bloc respectively. This historic gathering included such leaders as Kwame Nkrumah, Nehru, Chou En-lai, Julius Nyerere, and others.
Fred Ho, a Chinese American radical artist and activist, identified with the struggles for self-determination, self-reliance and social transformation of national liberation struggles in the Third World and thus took this name for his professional band.
The Afro Asian Music Ensemble's first recording TOMORROW IS NOW!, was released by the prestigious Soul Note/Black Saint label of Italy in 1985.
The second recording, WE REFUSE TO BE USED AND ABUSED, came out in 1988 but was recorded late fall 1987 while the band was in Milan, Italy.
The third recording on Soul Note was THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO MY HEART, released in 1994. It heralded Fred Ho's groundbreaking music excerpted from the music/theater epic
"Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of Monkey" inspired by the Chinese trickster, Sun Wu Kong (aka "The Monkey King"). It also marked the first time ever in "jazz" recording history of featuring Chinese vocals and extended compositions for western and Chinese instruments with "jazz."
Since then, the band has recorded TURN PAIN INTO POWER! (a major anti-quincentennial suite) for O.O. Discs, YES MEANS YES, NOT MEANS NO, WHATEVER SHE WEARS, WHEREEVER SHE GOES! for Koch Jazz, WARRIOR SISTERS: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF AFRICAN AND ASIAN WOMYN WARRIORS (a 3 act New American opera) with libretto by Ann T. Greene for Koch Jazz (the opera WARRIOR SISTERS premiered at The Kitchen in NYC November 28 through December 2000 and toured to Arizona State University at Tempe in September, 2001). Two new works are: VOICE OF THE DRAGON: ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINESE AMERICA...THE MARTIAL ARTS EPIC soundtrack on Innova Recordings and a historic first, the DVD THE BLACK PANTHER SUITE: All Power to the People!
BOBBY ZANKEL (alto saxophone)
Brooklyn born composer-saxophonist Bobby Zankel first began attracting national attention in the early 70s for his work with Cecil Taylor's large ensemble, which he still performs with, and for his presence on the early "loft scene", performing with William Parker, Ray Anderson, Sunny Murray…A Philadelphian since 1975 he has recorded with such brilliant diverse artists as Johnny Coles, Marilyn Crispell, Uri Caine, Tyrone Brown, Ralph Peterson Jr., Odean Pope, Gary Thomas, Samrai Celestial, John Blake. Zankel’s award winning compositions are characterised by a stunning blend of rhythmic layers, a highly personal complex chromatic harmonic language, and a hauntingly beautiful melodic lyricism.He has recorded seven CDs as a leader. www.bobbyzankel.com
Salim Washington (tenor saxophone)
Master tenor saxophonist, multi-reedsman, composer, and jazz educator, SALIM WASHINGTON (tenor saxophone) is one of the fastest rising stars on the New York Jazz scene today. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Detroit, Michigan, he was influenced by street culture and the church, and then by artists such as Charles Mingus. He played with the Worlds Experience Orchestra, Sun Ra’s Source of Life Arkestral Revelation (SOLAR), the Sun Messengers, and Billy Skinner Double Jazz Quartet (DJQ), before forming the Roxbury Blues Aesthetic (RBA), and more recently the Harlem Arts Ensemble. Washington holds a PhD from Harvard, where he studied with Henry Louis Gates, and has taught all over the world, from the Detroit prisons to the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music to the Bill Evans conservatory in Paris. www.salimwashington.com
ROYAL HARTIGAN (multiple percussion)
is fluent in many world music and drumming traditions, including South Indian, Javanese, Native American, West African, Caribbean steel band, south Filipino kulingtang, and African-American schools. He has a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology and World Music from Wesleyan University where he taught. He has also been on the faculty of The New School for Social Research in New York City. He has performed with Max Roach, Eddie Blackwell, Juba, Talking Drums, among others.
ART HIRAHARA (keyboards) is a pianist/composer living in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music at Oberlin Conservatory and California Institute of the Arts. Art has performed around the world at venues in the Middle East, South Asia, China, Japan, Europe, as well as the U.S. He has worked with noted musicians including Vincent Herring, Akira Tana, Rufus Reid, Wadada Leo Smith, royal hartigan, Scott Amendola, Hafez Modirzadeh and the Asian American Orchestra. Art self-released a CD in 2000 and performed with his sextet at the Monterey Jazz Festival. He has also composed music for theater and independent film.
WES BROWN (bass) has performed and toured with a wide range of musical personalities. Wes plays acoustic and electric bass, keyboard, percussion and African flute. His current interests include African-American/jazz, Afro-pop/worldbeat, reggae and traditional African styles. Wes has appeared on over two dozen records with various artists and has extensive international touring experience with such artists as Earl "Fatha" Hines and Anthony Braxton.
TECHNICAL RIDER FOR THE AFRO ASIAN MUSIC ENSEMBLE
11 Music Stands
1 Area Floor Rug 4' X 5'
1 Small Table for the percussionist (waist high)
1 bass amplifier
1 Drum Set (see below for specifications)
Stage Dimensions (minimum 20' x 20')
General Stage Lighting
Separate Dressing rooms for men and women
Mineral Water and 100% Juice (ABSOLUTELY NO additives OR preservatives, including Fructose and Corn Syrup) in dressing rooms for entire performance.
Drum set Bass Drum 18" or 20"; Floor Tom 14", Mounted Tom 12"; Snare Drum 14", High Hat Cymbals 14"; Crash Cymbal 18"; Ride Cymbal 20"; Bass Drum Pedal; Snare Stand; Throne; 3 Cymbal Stands, 2 Regular Stands for Cymbals, 1 Boom Stand for suspending Gongs Brands: Drums-Sonor or Gretsh Wood Drums with White Coated Drumheads Cymbals-Paiste, K. Zildian, A. Zildian.
note: The Afro Asian Music Ensemble prefers to perform without amplification; however, in spaces larger than 100 seats, 12 mics with booms, five monitors, professional sound engineer for live mixing are required.
The Afro Asian Music Ensemble also performs as a quintet without piano.