"He may be the best of his generation," writes Owen Cordle in JazzTimes. George Kanzler of the Newark Star Ledger proclaims that he is "the most impressive and creative member of a new generation of jazz guitarists." And Chip Deffaa of the New York Post observes that he is "...one of the very finest young guitarists working today."
It seems that the only thing regarding Howard Alden on which the critics have debate is whether the remarkable jazz guitarist is one of the best or simply the best.
Born in Newport Beach, California, in 1958, Howard began playing at age ten, inspired by recordings of Armstrong, Basie and Goodman, as well as those by guitarists Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and George Van Eps. Soon he was working professionally around Los Angeles playing in groups ranging from traditional to mainstream to modern jazz. In 1979, Alden went east, for a summer in Atlantic City with Red Norvo, and continued to perform with him frequently for several years.
Upon moving to New York City in 1982, Alden's skills, both as soloist and accompanist, were quickly recognized and sought-out for appearances and recordings with such artists as Joe Bushkin, Ruby Braff, Joe Williams, Warren Vache` and Woody Herman.
He has continued to win accolades from critics and musicians alike, adding Benny Carter, Flip Phillips, Mel Powell, Bud Freeman, Kenny Davern, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and George Van Eps, as well as notable contemporaries such as Scott Hamilton and Ken Peplowski to his list of impressive credits. Howard Alden has been a Concord Jazz recording artist since the late '80s where his prolific recorded output as leader, co-leader, and versatile sideman, has captured an artist of consistently astonishing virtuosity and originality.
One of the many highlights in Howard Alden's fruitful association with Concord Jazz came in 1991 when, at the urging of Concord President, Carl Jefferson, Alden recorded with one of his all-time heroes, seven-string guitar master George Van Eps on the album Thirteen Strings .
As a result of his associating with - and inspiration from - George Van Eps, Alden has been playing the seven-string guitar exclusively since 1992. The seven string guitar imparts a greater range and harmonic richness to Alden's already colorful tonal palette, as evidenced on three remarkable follow-up albums with Van Eps, his critically acclaimed duo recordings with saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Peplowski, and the stunning interplay between Alden and special guest Frank Wess on Your Story - The Music of Bill Evans . Alden also teamed up with fellow guitarists Jimmy Bruno and Frank Vignola to record a three guitar outing entitled The Concord Jazz Guitar Collective , which was quickly called by some critics "an instant classic!"