Asian Fusion: DC Making Music with Web Fleming & Ma-Xiao-Hui

HAPPY 30th ANNIVERSARY ... of when our PRETEND BRO … BILL TAGGART  … came back into our lives. It happened during the last weekend of July in 1993.

Bill told us he was having a rare night off from doing duty. What kind? Show Biz kind. (He was and still is an exceptional IATSE Stagehand/ Projectionist … more about that below).

Bill Taggart was “toolin’ around” … traveling from his ‘hood in Cleveland … to suburban Mentor. Tag came cruisin’ to a classic car cruise … held at a classic place. Why do I call it classic?

To hubby-Dennis … it was classic … for it was the very same Diner … that a youthful-Dennis used to cruise to … from his ‘hood. The nearby post-world-war-two housing projects called “Euclid Homes” … was where the Chandler Family lived. So going for ice cream … meant their Uncle Martin’s Freeze Ice Cream Stand … which was right next to that Kenny King Diner. Is it any wonder Dennis loves all things, Diner.  

1993 … Here he was in Mentor … as musician-Dennis … entertaining on the back side … of the same Diner. That’s where and when Tag came back into our lives, as I alluded above, at  Annabelle’s.

What’s-in-a-Name-Department …    

About that renamed Kenny King Diner … It was bought by Annabelle Lucas … who had it moved to Mentor, Ohio … where she renamed it “Annabelle’s”. BTW: CRUISER EMERITUS JOE ARTALE … shared that he has the whole saga of the move … journaled and filmed. Who is Joe? Founder of Rock’n’Roll Capitol Street Machines but before RNRCSM … he was head of the Nifty Fifties / Sixties Car Clubs. Historian Artale and Annabelle … would make cool presenters of cruising memories.Then Dennis can do some cool cruisin’ music. Oh, wait!  Make it in parking lot somewhere … and …  I know the perfect projectionist to run the film.   

Back to about Dennis’ love of all things, Diner. Annabelle Lucas … being the Diner’s first owner .. got him hooked on GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES. Getting Dennis to do music? Easy, peasey. Just plie him with Diner food. Plus, when Annabelle married Michael Neshkin … they graciously invited us to join them on many a mystery road trip. To see what else? Diners. Going to Chicago, Pittsburgh, etc. was especially entertaining for Patient-Dennis after his chemo treatments. About Dennis beating AML Leukemia … go to this website’s page …

Timeless too was when later that Summer of ’93 … in  August … Bill brought out to the Diner … and into our hearts … dear Web Fleming. 

On January 15, 2023 … Baritone Web Fleming passed.

Click on the Link to learn about the INCREDIBLE LIFE he had … Web’s obituary is at …

Psalms, book of the Old Testament is composed of “SACRED SONGS … SACRED POEMS … MEANT TO BE SUNG”. Psalm 30:5 … says, “WEEPING MAY LAST THROUGH THE NIGHT, BUT JOY COMES IN THE MORNING”.


Links below are for (3) MP3 RECORDINGS we did way back in 1998. The back-story of these newfound files follows. When Web returned from his Far East tour … he wanted to meet famed ERHUIST MA XIAO-HUI. Who? Headliner at the LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION (held earlier in the month at Li Wah Restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Town). That gig was prior to this night of jammin’ (at our home here in Solon … hence my title of “A Musical Salon in Solon”). The jam was IMPROMPTU … STUNNING. The session made WEB want to sing for her … and he did. It made me want to record them … and I did, (thank God). Enjoy “Spirituals”. You will hear Web’s BIG Baritone voice. (BTW decades ago he had the honorific title “Hak San” conferred on him. Loosely translated it means “Black Mountain”!) Web is accompanied by Ma on her Erhu … an ancient 2-stringed instrument … and Dennis on his piano.

Here are those 3 LINKS:

Spirituals  ©  Baritone Web Fleming accompanied by famed ERHUIST Ma Xiao-Hui and Pianist Dennis Chandler. Amazingly they were sitting back to back … “speaking” … in the Universal language of Music. 

Orient Express  ©  An original impromptu instrumental … performed by famed ERHUIST Ma Xiao-Hui and Pianist Dennis Chandler. Amazingly they were sitting back to back … “speaking” … in the Universal language of Music.

Cityscape  ©  Another original impromptu instrumental … performed by famed ERHUIST Ma Xiao-Hui and Pianist Dennis Chandler. Again amazingly done as they were sitting back to back … “speaking” … in the Universal language of Music.

To learn more about Web … please go to this website’s page titled “A Meet & Greet Again: Web Fleming & William Taggart”. It has some similar contents. BUT it also has different stories, paragraphs and photos. Web’s memory is a Blessing.

To learn more about composer George David Weiss … click on the LINK … 

We do NOT have Web’s rendition of Composer George David Weiss’ song … but here is what inspired Web …


Now For the Back Story How East Meets West, North & South – World Class Musicians’ Long Journey to a Jam 



Why Web loved running the rails … big and little … he was from Willard, Ohio. Learn more are the historic town … go to,_Ohio

To learn about the lady from Shanghi, as I call her … go to

We go back in time … to before the above shots were taken … to talk about the theme of Asian Fusion. (Sooo get a BIG cup of coffee or tea … and toast Webby!) The late Journalist WILLIAM F. MILLER and his wife MARIANNA aka MARIA MILLER … loved to hear good melodic music. They and Bill’s brother, “Petey” aka Pete Miller (award-winning photojournalist) … would come to hear musician-Dennis wherever he was playing … whatever genre music he was making … and with whomever he was making it with, so to speak.

Oftentimes joining in on the fun was his fellow Plain Dealer … Mary Strassmeyer … aka Mary, Mary (or Strassy as we affectionately called her). 

Learn more about the iconic columnist …

About Journalist William F. Miller and how his ink helped this city ……/new-kensington-native…/…/william-f-miller-dies.html…/william-f-miller-73……/memories-of-plain-dealer……/bill-miller/…/playhousesquare…

So since Bill Miller worked at the Cleveland Plain Dealer he got to meet and know many … in the nearby ASIAN community. Plus the award-winning journalist found people more open to being interviewed … over Dim Sum. The Millers, along with mutual friend CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH, arranged for musician-Dennis to become part of many various entertainment events around town … including AsianTown. There accompanist-Dennis found himself playing … then backing Baritone Web singing … (and sometimes dancing, too).

Plus Web as Hak San performed in character … as Pao Kong aka Justice Bao Gong aka Boa Zheng. What fun fellowships at those Lunar New Year Celebrations. Donna Hom’s Li Wah Restaurant … a home away from home. A good place to practice our “House Rule … First you play … then you eat!”,_Cleveland

“Who is that character?” Journalist William F. Miller answered, “Oh, wait. I wrote articles about that  ‘Asian’  actor”. That’s Web on the left … portraying the mystical Pao Kong aka Justice Bao Gong aka Bao Zheng. Who? The ancient character considered by many to be … the origin of the tale titled, “Here come the Judge“. In the photo on the right is our “Pal Bill” joined by Baritone Web Fleming and a harmonizing poser.

About Pao Kong aka Justice Bao Gong aka Bao Zheng … go to …

Whenever Dennis entertained at Li Wah … he would do a variety act of various piano styles during his set. Then he would act as accompanist for Baritone Web Fleming for his. They both enjoyed immensely … playing to this diverse and most appreciative audience.

In the above mentioned year (’98) Dennis was looking forward to doing it again … albeit solo … for Web Fleming was booked to tour in the Far East. 

So, filling in was to be another dear mutual friend … the popular broadcaster BILL GORDON aka BILL “SMOOCHIE” GORDON. (Who was B.G.? Go to the page with his name and learn more about this media and talk show pioneer).   

Musical director Chandler was to accompany Bill Gordon (again after Dennis did his own set). Well, you remember what they say, “the best laid plans”, etc. Here’s what happened next …

When other performers on the playbill ran over the time allotted … it was decided to rearrange the acts. Just when Dennis’ piano was being moved, it was dropped. Quickly, it was carried out to the adjacent plaza. Focused on following his piano, Dennis didn’t notice the HEADLINER, MA-XIAO-HUI … waiting. She was in what was being used as a holding area (read: the Asian Plaza). Ma had already done her portion of the program … playing on her ancient 2-stringed instrument called a ERHU. The esteemed ERHUIST gave a magnificent performance. But upon seeing Dennis’ dilemma … she thought he was exiting and she was upset. Since she spoke little English, she tried to use body language to communicate her protestations. 

A program from a 1997 concert by world class Erhuist, Ma Xiaohui.  

Ma later told Dennis she was waiting around … just to hear him perform. That’s what she was trying to convey to him when, during the setup … his piano was dropped.

Concerned that the electronics in his keyboard got damaged … Dennis busied himself checking the settings with his right hand. Then with his left hand he started to “run” the bass keys in a boogie-woogie style. It was in a style of timing that gospel singers routinely call “a left-hand like God”. Definition? Meaning the perfect-timing of a stride-style of accompaniment. That’s what caught the eye and ear of “THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI”. Ma, again impressed with his playing … spoke to her “handlers”. They hastily put together his piano bench, placing it under him. Dennis was so distracted that he didn’t even notice them holding the piano up, in midair!

From its case, Ma proceeded to pull her instrument, the ERHU. Oh, the sounds she coaxed from that ancient 2-stringed instrument! She entreated Dennis to continue … the boogie-woogie beat and piano stride-style … that he started with. Then she begged him to play BLUES. Later, they jammed with some JAZZ, too. What a sight. These two master musicians, who never spoke to one another before … were now communicating … in the Universal Language of Music … right there in the lobby at Asian Town Plaza.

(Thanks goes to:  1. Li Wah owner Donna Hom. 2. Bill Taggart. Who? He was the one who played stagehand, literally. “Tag” acting as roadie … held up Dennis’ keyboard. 3. Security Billy Evans. He held him from exiting … before Erhuist Ma could get her instrument out. BTW: Bill is still a card-carrying member of the Teamsters’ stagehand & projectionist union … aka … IATSE … he also served as the local’s president for a period. Sadly, “Bodyguard Billy from The Front Row” passed. I’m sure he is Above, serving as Security … which probably includes the late Millers … “Pal Bill” , his dear wife, Marie … and now Webby!  What Lights. 

Still with us down here … is “Pal Dennis” aka Dennis Kucinich. He deserves credit for many “acts” of kindness. For example … as mutual friends … he helped us get BB King … a Key to the City of Cleveland (when DK was mayor). He arranged along with another aficionado of the Blues … Councilman Jay Westbrook … for proclamations, too. Then years later … recognition in the Congressional Record for BB (when DK served as Congressman Kucinich).

Soo … you see it was particularly pleasant to catch up with these peeps whenever we crossed paths. Oftentimes it was DK speaking … DC playing … and Journalist Bill Miller taking notes, (pardon the pun). It was for me a sort of … News-Over-Dim-Sum-Date. DK deserves kudos for the devoted public servant he is … and has always been. I credit him as a good sport, too. The photo below shows how much so … this night of Lunar New Year Celebration … in Asian Town … in our hometown.

Speaking of some “satchmo singing” … the photo shows then Congressman Dennis Kucinich getting serenaded. DK serves all in the community … which this night included those in attendance (at Li Wah’s Lunar New Year Celebration). Baritone Web sang ala Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong style. The song? “What a Wonderful World” … and it was.

Speaking of spirituals … it was years ago that a very young Web Fleming sang baritone … as a member of the world renowned choir from Cleveland, Ohio. It was called, “Wings Over Jordan”. The storied history of that great choir’s effect worldwide can be found on Wikipedia. There is a link I listed further down below. In the meanwhile here is a page from Web’s copy of his “Wings Songbook” …

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia …

“Wings Over Jordan broke the color barrier as the first radio program produced and hosted by African-Americans to be nationally broadcast over a network. The program was the first of its kind which was easily accessible to audiences in the Deep South, featuring distinguished black church and civic leaders, scholars and artists as guest speakers. One of the highest-rated religious radio programs in the United States, it also had an international shortwave audience on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Voice of America (VOA), and Armed Forces Radio
Youngins can learn about “Wings”, as they were affectionately called … go to …

It was during the days prior to the turbulent civil rights movements. A very young Web Fleming saw the struggles and … for the first time … he also saw what fame can do. Web said, with his robe on and in good voice (read: BIG voice) … he was seen and heard … in a more (shall we say) … favorable light. Why? The choir was graciously received … for they were world renown. How so? Those early radio broadcasts of NEGRO SPIRITUALS were heard all around the world … as explained above. BTW where did those airwaves originate from? Right near where Web later lived … in his adopted hometown … Cleveland, Ohio. (I can NOT imagine what it meant to Web … to be asked to be a soloist with that Choir … and at that time!)

Back to the year ’98 and another jam that followed the one where Dennis and Ma met (at  Asian Plaza). The next subsequent night of inspired-playing? It was down home, literally. We hosted them here at home  … with a musicale … I called, “A Salon in Solon”. That’s where musician Dennis introduced BARITONE WEB FLEMING to Ma. Web had just returned home to Cleveland from that above-mentioned tour … to the Far East. (Recall that is why Web was not able to do the booking in Asian Town).

Ma met Web … who was introduced to her by his honorary Asian name … “HAK SAN”. That name loosely translated means “BLACK MOUNTAIN”.  It was the name given to him decades ago … when he was a big star … in the FAR EAST. They began speaking to one another … then singing to one another … in Cantonese and Mandarin! 

Talk about … an Asian fusion … an Eastern feel … a Southern sway. What happened next was quite a sight to behold. Just ask Web’s nephew STAN DAVIS. (Who, by the way is a fine baritone singer himself). The sight to behold? It was pianist-Dennis and Erhuist-Ma … sitting back to back performing spontaneously … some original music. They were impromptu but I promptly recorded it. It was stunning, as I wrote above.

What happened after Ma and Dennis did their two instrumentals? Learning that Baritone Web was a member of that famed NEGRO CHOIR, “WINGS OVER JORDAN” … made Ma want to hear Web sing. This time she wanted songs from his and Dennis’ repertoire of “Gospel & Negro Spirituals”. Then, after that set … the three of them … Ma, Dennis and Web started to do … a set of Blues. It was Souful, to say the least

After the Musicale held at home in her honor, Ma shared with Dennis that she’s “considered a BIG star” and “perhaps their collaboration-of-creativity might bring official sponsorship for the two of them to tour overseas?” Ma further reasoned that because of her role as a Shanghai Traditional Orchestra Principal and as the Artistic Advisor of the Hong Kong Youth Music Society, she felt she could help co-ordinate a “BLUES IN THE SCHOOL” concert series overseas, too. (Dennis had done such in his hometown state of Ohio). Ma expressed that they could tour, record together again. She paid him a high compliment, “Dennis Chandler, you are a world class musician and I think I know one when I see one!”

Well, hearing her say that of him was … gracious. Learning how to tour there … turned out to be pragmatic. Why? Sadly, at that time … grants from our government’s NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) … got cut. That was then. This is now. So if not now … when? Where’s a MacArthur grant writer … when you need one. I’m still waitin’ on one … while I’m writing … all this.

Thank you, Dr. Nianfa Tang for hosting … in your home … a salon in Solon, as I like to call … musical get togethers. Yours made that Mid-Autumn Moon Festival night … special. It was appreciated.

Also appreciated was your booking Ma Xiao-Hui for that Lunar New Year Celebration of ’98. Today it is 2023 … it seems so long ago … but the memory lingers on. It brings back to mind … that serendipitous bringing together of Ma, Dennis and Web. Perhaps there could be another reunion … “Ma & Dennis Together Again”… (in honor Hak San … the dearly departed Web Fleming).  

Bears repeating … 2023:  BILL, I know Hilltop Productions has you working the gigs like the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. But ‘tween changeovers … pause and reflect … so we can send out GOOD VIBES to you. Please know we will be FOREVER GRATEFUL to YOU … for INTRODUCING US to WEBBY! Stay Healthy. Stay Safe. We love you, Dennis & Liz.

We will never forget you, dear Webby!

Liz Chandler
Website Writer  /  2023