"I'm honored to discuss this cd. I found Fred Ho's Monkey: Part One a glorious surprise, and the second section of his musical setting for the trickster tale [Monkey: Part Two] is no disappointment. I associate this music's programmatic essences, its pungent lyricism, its humorous play in sound and song contra distinct to Chinese singing for the western stage, and its sheer drive with Mingus' Black Saint…and a continuum of Weil and Bernstein." --Ron Wellburn, Jazz Times
"[Fred Ho] has truly outdone himself with this project….it is a testimony to Ho's skill and sensitivity that these seemingly disparate elements are combined into a dramatic, highly entertaining and integrated whole. Monkey is truly a major work-not just jazz, and not some freakish hybrid, but sophisticated modern music for the concert hall which will stand up nicely against anything in the contemporary classical repertoire." --Bill Tilland, Option Magazine
"This is one of those CD's to which words can't do justice. To say that it is brilliantly conceived and orchestrated and at times hilarious should suffice. This substantial and savory entrée can be proudly served to the delight of friends and family of even the most diverse tastes." --Sandra Brulingame, 5/4 Magazine
"Sit up and take note of Fred Ho's performance vistas! His extraordinary orchestrational and theatrical senses in Chinese traditional folk forms and jazz scores that seem inspired by Evans and Mingus. His sensibility is not content with the orthodoxies of 'world music.' One senses its been brewing for decades (Joachim Berendt would have enjoyed this). The timbral combination is perfect with the high-pitched traditional sounds and the pungent or waxy lines of the 'jazzy' horns….Through Ho, add yet another narrative to the Vizenorian 'trickster discourse.'…the CD may be one of the musically original recordings in 1996." --Ron Welburn, Jazz Times
"Saxophonist-composer Fred Ho has been pioneering the fusion of jazz with traditional Chinese music with some startling results….The music is filled with surprises…Ho's composition affords striking testimony to the capacity of jazz to create an astonishing array of dramatic moods, textures and emotions." --Los Angeles Times
"Ho's voicings tend toward the tart and dissonant yet there are also passages of staggering beauty….Ho is working on something new here…For the adventurous listener, this is an adventure that is well worth undertaking." -Robert Iannapollo, Cadence Magazine
"At last year's San Francisco Jazz Festival, Fred Ho wowed the crowd…they rose to give Ho and crew a thunderous ovation….radical politics with killer big-band hooks…many themes, many musics, for a revelatory, crosscultural transit…some drop-dead apocalyptic swing...Ho's baritone sax is as likely to break out in a deep slamming funk or to skitter-dance across breakbeats as it is to swing or testify Coltrane-style. Whether leading with a deep-throated Eastern blues or creating a polyrhythmic texture for soloists to work against, the Monkey Orchestra is up to the challenge….the result is passionately embracing. If, as Toni Cade Bambara suggested, the goal of the revolutionary artist is to make revolution irresistible, then Fred Ho has taken a giant step." --Aaron Shuman, Express (Berkeley, CA)
The MONKEY ORCHESTRA features 11 musicians (including Chinese and western instrumentation) and 1 conductor and performs the highly unique and exceptional music to the four act fantasy action-adventure epic, MONKEY (aka JOURNEY BEYOND THE WEST: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MONKEY). The Monkey Orchestra is the most unique and original chamber orchestra/big band of all time!