During the war against advanced colo-rectal cancer (from 2006), which included two primary tumors and two recurrences, Fred Ho, hammered by massive chemo and radiation, found inspiration in the fight for his life from watching movies of The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Ali s bold, militant, defiant and spirited resistance to the forces of American racism, combined with his élan, grace and humor (both poetical and personal), his indisputable athletic abilities and genius, and the inspiration to the world s peoples (especially the oppressed) and their embrace of him, served as constant inspiration to Fred Ho. During one of his recovery periods, Ho decided to compose a work for his Green Monster Big Band to honor The Greatest.
Where the typical ECM continental European chamber sound has been associated with Norwegian pianist Christian Wallumrod, Fabula Suite Lugano adds a new, expansive flavor to what might be expected. This rather ambitious program features a core ensemble, but the sounds are bigger or smaller depending on the inspiration or thematic concept. At the center of many tracks is the violin and viola of Gjermund Larsen and cellist Tanja Orning, but the Baroque harp, as played by Giovanna Pessi, adds more bright colors, while the lone horn (trumpet) of Eivind Lonnig completes the cycle of mystery to this spatial, in-the-main haunting music.
The seven compositions on this recording where composed with an idealized Juke Box in mind, where any kind of music might show up from any culture or time and be combined for the next "Play". My music listening has been informed by the spirit and work of Alan Lomax, from blues to raga, ragtime to avant-garde, pygmy chants to Korean court music, following styles and esthetics as they rubbed up against each other in the mingling of culture that was made available by intrepid searchers of music. The "sides" aren't a direct borrowing but a weaving of the common threads that occur in all musics.