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Concert to Remember Composer/Activist Glenn Horiuchi

From right: Glenn Horiuchi, William Roper and Francis Wong in 1997 at the Japanese American National Museum. (Photo by Joseph Mitchell)

The brass ensemble Purple Gums, made up of Los Angeles musicians Bobby Bradford (cornet) and William Roper (tuba), San Francisco-based Francis Wong (saxophone), and San Francisco guests Lenora Lee (dance) and Melody Takata (dance and taiko), will perform a special concert entitled “Remembering Glenn Horiuchi” on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. at the Far East Lounge, 353 E. First St. in Little Tokyo.

Horiuchi’s wife, Edna, and other members of his family will also be on hand for the remembrance. Admission is free but donations will be accepted.

The concert is part of a Southern California mini-tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the production company Asian Improv aRts.

“Glenn passed away in 2000 of colon cancer (at age 45) and was a prime mover for Asian Improv aRts from our pre-history in the Asian American Movement until his transition,” said Francis Wong, Asian Improv creative director and co-founder. “A role model and mentor for me and so many others, he played such roles as a musician, teacher, community organizer — most notably the redress movement but also in the El Salvador support movement, and of course Jesse Jackson for President — and Zen Buddhist practitioner. All the while being a devoted family man. He continues to inspire us with his life example, artistic work, and abiding spirit.”

Bobby Bradford, William Roper and Francis Wong

William Roper and Wong performed as part of Horiuchi’s musical ensembles, which often included his aunt Lillian Nakano, who played the shamisen. Calling forth the freewheeling style reminiscent of those ensembles, Purple Gums performs a tasty gumbo of jazz, free improv, ragtime and classical.

According to Roper, “The trio’s role is to carry on the tradition of making music in the moment. Charts don’t exist. Rehearsals have never occurred. Ideas are generated and developed on the bandstand.”

Lee and Takata bring an interdisciplinary cross-genre dimension to the Feb. 25 performance.

Purple Gums will also perform on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. at UC Irvine’s Music and Media Building, Room 218, and on Friday, Feb. 24, from 12 to 2 p.m. at The Barn, 900 University Ave. in Riverside.

Lenora Lee and Melody Takata

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