2 Songs, 54 Minutes


Customer Reviews

1971 & 1979

fire music archive inc

Message to South Africa was written in the week that Steven Biko was killed & it features two of the Cape's most powerful & evocative exiles. It's a stunning performance, laden with passionate vocals from Howard, the magnificent Dyani & Zuzaan Kali Fasteau. Howard is always sensitive to the yin aspects of the music, its feminine side, & even in the midst of violence & despair it sings. The earlier material was originally released on Howard's own AltSax label. It was commissioned by Dutch Radio, just as that country nurtured the last wisdom of Eric Dolphy. As with Eric back in 1964, Bennink is magnificent: swinging, dark & funny. Mengelberg is more uncomfortable in the context, & at moments he treats the African material almost dismissively. McGregor quotes from the African National Congress anthem, 'Nkosi Sikeleli Afrika,' once explicitly & once in inverted form on Message to South Africa. It's a tiny reminder of the political context against which this music is created. At this point, almost anything of Howard's is welcome. These, though, are genuinely important points in the story.

About Noah Howard

One of free jazz's more enigmatic figures, alto saxophonist Noah Howard was documented so infrequently on record and spent so much time living in Europe that the course of his career and development as a musician remain difficult to trace, despite a late-'90s renewal of interest in his music. Howard was born in New Orleans in 1943 and began playing music in church as a child. He started out on trumpet (the instrument he played in the military during the early '60s) but subsequently switched to alto, and got in on the ground floor of the early free jazz movement. Most influenced by Albert Ayler, Howard made his debut as a leader for the groundbreaking ESP label, recording a pair of dates in 1966 (Noah Howard Quartet and At Judson Hall). Dissatisfied with the reception accorded his music -- and the avant-garde movement in general -- in America, Howard relocated to Europe, where he initially lived in France. He played with Frank Wright in 1969, and in 1971, he recorded with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink (among others) on Patterns, which was issued on his own AltSax label. Howard recorded a bit for FMP in the mid-'70s, and in 1979 also did a track for France's Mercury division, "Message to South Africa," that went unissued due to its militancy. Howard flirted with jazz-funk sometime in the '80s and early '90s, a phase that went largely undocumented. He returned to free jazz in the late '90s and began recording for labels other than AltSax, including CIMP (1997's Expatriate Kin), Cadence (1999's Between Two Eternities), Ayler (Live at the Unity Temple), and Boxholder (2001's Red Star), returning to the AltSax label after the turn of the millennium with the release of 2003's Dreamtime and 2007's Desert Harmony (with Jordan's Amir Faqir). Thanks to the relative increase in visibility, Howard began to get more of his due as an early avant-garde innovator. He died suddenly on September 3, 2010 while vacationing in the South of France. ~ Steve Huey

    New Orleans, LA
  • BORN
    April 6, 1943