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Noah Howard: Quartet To At Judson Hall, Revisited


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Noah Howard: Quartet To At Judson Hall, Revisited
Saxophonist Noah Howard is a musician deserving wider recognition. Born in New Orleans in 1943, like many black musicians he began playing music in the church. After a stint in the army, he settled on the West Coast where the avant-garde was progressing outside the purview of New York, which at the time was considered the center of all things jazz. The West Coast was also the origin of such as avant-gardists as Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and the saxophonist Sonny Simmons, a musician Howard would associate with before moving to New York and eventually Europe.

Maybe there was not enough room in the '60s for critics to expand their attention beyond the New Thing sounds of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coleman. Lucky for adventurist listeners, the ezz-thetics Revisited Series is drawing greater to attention to deserving musicians such as Howard, Marion Brown, and Joe Harriott with these expertly remastered reissues.

Howard's two ESP Disk releases are presented here. Both were recorded in New York in 1966. The first Quartet finds the saxophonist with two musicians about whom very little is known, the expat-British trumpeter Ric Colbeck and drummer Dave Grant. The quartet's bassist Scotty Holt would later be heard in Jackie McLean's ensembles. The piano-less ensemble is fashioned in the same manner as Ornette Coleman's quartet with Don Cherry, yet it draws more from the styling of Sonny Simmons. Howard employs a bluesy Gospel-like sound here. Oxymoron aside, can we call this accessible free jazz? Certainly.

With At Judson Hall, Howard expands his quartet, adding pianist Dave Burrell, swapping Holt's bass for that of Sirone, plus cellist Catherine Norris, and the evergreen drummer Bobby Kapp, who can be heard in Matthew Shipp's trio. The Judson Hall recording replaces the urgency of Quartet with a more equanimous sound. Credit the influence of this new line-up for expanding Howard's conception. "Homage to Coltrane" is the highlight here. The ensemble ramps up the intensity from its hypnotic rhythms and dreamlike beginning to a feverish and most satisfying conclusion.

Track Listing

Henry's Street; Apotheosis; Apotheosis Extension I; And About Love; This Place Called Earth; Hommage To Coltrane.


Noah Howard: saxophone, alto; Dave Burrell: piano; Sirone: bass, acoustic; Bobby Kapp: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Ric Colbeck: trumpet; Scotty Holt: bass; Dave Grant: drums; Catherine Norris; cello

Album information

Title: Quartet To At Judson Hall, Revisited | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Ezz-thetics

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