It's not difficult to think of great blues artists--there's a roll call of honor as long as that of great jazz artists--and every sizeable town in the world has a blues band or two. So where is the violin? Great blues guitarists and vocalists have never been in short supply, but the great blues violinist, once such an important part of the blues group, has all but disappeared.Eighty or so years ago, dozens of blues recordings featured fiddle players. It may be that the emergence of the guitar played a role in subverting and nearly banishing the fiddle ...read more
The violin is widely considered as the most expressive of instruments, closely approximating the human voice. It depends, however, to a large degree, on whose hands the instrument is in. Christian Howes is that rare breed of musician who makes the violin talk; using the idiom of the blues on Out of the Blue, Howes gives a virtuoso performance, as full of emotion as it is technically dazzling. Joined by guitarist Robben Ford , who lends his jazz-inflected accent to these blues, Howes' quintet fairly rips through an eclectic selection of covers which run from gospel and funk to New ...read more
There is always the fear that producing an authentic jazz album with orchestration is too ambitious a project and is doomed under the heaviness associated with such affairs. And that might have been the case here, except the sum of the parts, i.e., violinist Christian Howes and arrangers Kuno Schmid and Roger Kellaway, is certainly more than the instant concept.For Howes' debut on Resonance Records, he is teamed with legendary pianist Roger Kellaway, the former music director for Bobby Darin and sideman to Wes Montgomery, Clark Terry and Zoot Sims. The veteran and Howes make, as they ... read more
By Christian Howes From a string player's point of view, gaining acceptance within the jazz community is a little like showing up for the first day at a new school with a big stain on your shirt. If you've ever walked into a jam session with a violin slung over your shoulder, you'd know that obtaining an invitation to the stage isn't easy. But this is changing as more orchestral string players find their way into creative musical situations. Our struggle to gain both credibility and a sense of identity might offer insight to other instrumentalists in ...read more
Christian Howes has often been referred to as the Jimi Hendrix of jazz violin," notes Los Angeles Times critic Don Heckman. He and others, like AAJ's C. Michael Bailey, have taken exception to this title, pointing to the depth and range of Howes' artistry. While Heckman insists that Howes is a jazz player first and foremost with an expansive improvisational imagination," Bailey is a bit blunter. My ass!" he exclaims, in a review of Jazz on Sale (Khaeon World Music, 2003), offering instead a moniker suggested by Lee Brown, who referred to Howes as a Jazz Paganini."
But even this ...read more
Jimi Hendrix of the violin," my ass! It is sad that we are saddled with such tired metaphors. Christian Howes is considerable more talented than such a moniker would suggest. Lee Brown referred to Howes as a Jazz Paganini." Now that is more like it. Classically trained since the age of five and performing Mendelssohn’s D Minor Violin Concerto at sixteen, Howes more than earned his stripes in the woodshed. As a jazz violinist today, he has no peer. Another really nice thing about his talent is that it falls damn little under the shadow of Stephane Grappelli. That makes ...read more
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