8 Songs, 1 Hour, 7 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Alto saxophonist and composer Noah Howard was a young upstart when he recorded his ESP-Disk debut in 1966, joined by drummer Dave Grant, bassist Scott Holt (a frequent confrere of altoist Jackie McLean), and British expatriate trumpeter Ric Colbeck on four original compositions. There’s a harried quality to “Henry’s Street,” a darting and incisive paean to the Lower East Side that captures the bustling energy of East Coast free music. Holt and Colbeck are very strong players, with the former’s tone and dexterity holding forth in an unaccompanied solo; the more obscure Grant is fleet and reminiscent of Rashied Ali. The preachy “Apotheosis” is rendered in two takes and is an early instance of one of Howard’s favored compositional devices, the Creole blues march. The composer’s slashing alto flywheel might overstep the bar lines, but its purposive exuberance more than makes up for any raggedness on this auspicious debut. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Alto saxophonist and composer Noah Howard was a young upstart when he recorded his ESP-Disk debut in 1966, joined by drummer Dave Grant, bassist Scott Holt (a frequent confrere of altoist Jackie McLean), and British expatriate trumpeter Ric Colbeck on four original compositions. There’s a harried quality to “Henry’s Street,” a darting and incisive paean to the Lower East Side that captures the bustling energy of East Coast free music. Holt and Colbeck are very strong players, with the former’s tone and dexterity holding forth in an unaccompanied solo; the more obscure Grant is fleet and reminiscent of Rashied Ali. The preachy “Apotheosis” is rendered in two takes and is an early instance of one of Howard’s favored compositional devices, the Creole blues march. The composer’s slashing alto flywheel might overstep the bar lines, but its purposive exuberance more than makes up for any raggedness on this auspicious debut. 

TITLE TIME
12:23
9:32
7:32
7:06
2:24
5:58
11:24
11:36

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

  • ORIGIN
    New Orleans, LA
  • GENRE
    Jazz
  • BORN
    April 6, 1943

Top Songs by Noah Howard

Top Albums by Noah Howard