Week #2: Fred Houn and the Afro Asian Music Ensemble-Tomorrow is Now!


*This record might be slightly hard to find but you can hear the whole thing on that App that makes money by not really paying musicians.

Some years ago, I stumbled upon this record at Twisted Village in Cambridge, Ma and decided to take a chance on it based on the packaging alone. I had heard of Fred Houn because he had previously played at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. I actually decided not go see him because I had experienced a slew of bad concert-going experiences at the ICA and was just burnt out on the place.

Honestly, I assumed this record was going to be filled with a barrage of overtones and out of tune Eurocentric “Free Jazz” improv. Instead, what I heard was a series of well-crafted and adventurous performances that owed as much to Duke Ellington as they did to Sun Ra. Actually, I think it’s slightly tragic that Fred Houn found himself relegated to outskirts of the “experimental jazz” movement because he demonstrated real promise as an orchestrator. Many large “avant-garde” ensembles present arrangements that are replete with crossed voicings, lower limit interval violations, and every other shoddy error typical to amateur musicianship. Thankfully, “Tomorrow is Now!” shares no commonality with such an approach. In fact, Houn’s intensely deliberate arrangements reflect the influence of Charles Mingus more than anyone else. Throughout the record, the listener encounters a pleasantly schizophrenic set of compositions that allude to Chinese folk songs, Bossa Nova, and even punk rock at times.

I should also point out that Fred Houn’s backstory is just as interesting as his music. I encourage everyone to learn more about him and his unique socio-political perspective on not just music but the world as a whole. Through my own research, I actually found out that we are both from the same area and shared one of the same teachers. In the depths of my own imagination, I would like to think that we shared an affinity for certain aesthetic values on the basis of some parallel experiences. Unfortunately, Houn died last April from complications of colorectal cancer at the age of 56.-Tone

Track listing:

  • 1) Tomorrow Is Now! – Suite (Dedicated To The League Of Revolutionary Struggle, U.S.A.):
    What It Was And Is
    C.B. (Taking Care Of Business)
    The Victims: You´ve Got To Overthrow The Big Bourgeoisie
    F.A.P. (As Fast As Possible)
    A Blk Woman Speaks
    History Crying For A Change
    3) Pretty As A Morning Sunrise
    4) Blues To The Freedom Fighters
    5) Ganbaro! (Dedicted To Japanese American Workers)
    6) We´ll Make Tomorrow (Kayo´s Song)
  • Fred Houn-Baritone Saxophone
    Sam Furnace-Alto Saxophone
    Kiyoto Fujiwara-Bass
    Taru Alexander-Drums
    Jon Jang-Piano
    Richard Clements-Piano
    Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabyyr-Tenor Saxophone, Flute
    Al Givens-Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone
    Carleen Robinson-Vocals
    Label: Soulnote

Year: 1985

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