University of Vermont

University Communications

Red, Black and Green Revolutionary Eco-Music Tour Coming to UVM Feb. 20

Performers to work with UVM students in a variety of settings

Fred Ho
Composer and instrumentalist Fred Ho, whom the New Yorker called the “best baritone saxophonist of all time,” will perform the world premier of his newest work with the Eco-Music Big Band on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the UVM Recital Hall. (Photo: Robert Adam Mayer)

A groundbreaking tour honoring the rich tradition of African American political resistance in music and the movements for ecological justice in Vermont will make a stop at UVM at Feb. 20, with a performance in the Southwick Recital Hall at 7:30. 

The Red, Black and Green Revolutionary Eco-Music Tour will perform the music of two of history’s most legendary and influential revolutionary big band jazz composers: Cal Massey, a leading 1960s African-American jazz composer and Black Panther Party stalwart whose long-lost suite “The Black Liberation Movement Suite” stands alone as one of the 20th century’s great long-form works, and famed composer, political activist, eco-socialist and “best baritone saxophonist of all time” (The New Yorker) Fred Ho, who be showcasing the world premiere of his newest work, “The Revolutionary Gardens of Harlem Suite: A Tribute to Clifford Thornton.”

Alongside the musical performance of these two majestic suites, Clare Dolan of Bread and Puppet circus and the Museum of Everyday Life will present a new Cantastoria work on the life of Cal Massey and the legacy of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.

In addition to the performance, the company of activists, musicians and speaker scholars will be in residence at UVM for a full day on Feb. 20. They will visit Professor Losambe’s Harlem Renaissance class, present at the UVM Honors College freshman symposium, hold a workshop with the UVM Big Band (who will also open the concert with a performance), and participate in a talk-back with the audience following the concert.

The 16-piece Eco-Music Big Band includes a diverse roster of some of the nation’s most respected jazz musicians, including bass trombonist Earl McIntyre (Duke Ellington, Mel Lewis/Thad Jones), trumpeter Winston Byrd (Paquito D’ Rivera, Clark Terry), Fred Ho’s saxophone protégé Ben Barson (Arturo O’Farrill, Craig Harris, Fred Ho) and percussion master royal hartigan (Archie Shepp, Max Roach). Tenor saxophonist and distinguished jazz scholar Salim Washington (Pharaoh Sanders, Randy Weston) will be accompanying the tour as performer and a presenter, having worked with the music of Cal Massey for decades.

Also accompanying the tour as speakers and performers will be two veterans of the Black Liberation Movement: Colia Clark, leader in the civil rights movement, former secretary to Medgar Evers and friend to Cal Massey, whose life and work have been dedicated to the freedom and self-determination of African peoples from Jackson Mississippi to Haiti and Algeria. Also accompanying the tour will be political activist and cellist Ayanna Nugzi, fiancée of African-American political prisoner and scholar Russell “Maroon” Shoats.

The tour will also mark the release of Truth And Dare: A Comic Book Curriculum for the End and the Beginning of the World, a graphic primer written by environmental and social justice advocacy non-profit Ecosocialist Horizons, and featuring illustrations from the illustrious comic collective World War Three Illustrated. Both a comic book and a teaching tool, this affordable comic book for all ages will promote a popular understanding of the ecological challenges humanity faces and the political and economic strategies to find solutions.

The tour is being sponsored in part by the UVM Honors College, the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the Department of Student Life and the UVM Jazz Studies Program. 

Other performance dates and locations include:

Feb. 19, 7 p.m.: Dibden Center for the Arts, Johnson Sate College, Johnson, Vt.

Feb. 21, 7 p.m.: First Universalist Church and Society of Barnard in conjunction with BARNArts.

Feb. 22, 8 p.m.: Haybarn Theatre at Goddard College.