Both an icon and an iconoclast, Fred Ho dies at 56.

Fred Ho, a composer, saxophonist, writer and radical activist who composed politically charged operas, suites, oratorios and ballets that mixed jazz with popular and traditional elements of what he called Afro-Asian culture, died on Saturday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 56.

The cause was complications of colorectal cancer, said his student and friend Benjamin Barson. Mr. Ho had been in a war with the disease — his preferred metaphor, which he expanded on in many books, essays, speeches and interviews — since 2006.

Mr. Ho, who was of Chinese descent, considered himself a “popular avant-gardist.” He was inspired by the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and by the ambitious, powerful music of African-American bandleaders including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and especially Charles Mingus. But he rejected the word jazz, which he considered a pejorative term imposed by Europeans.

Read it at NY Times.