Blues are everywhere, and saxophonist Noah Howard knows it. So do his bandmates on this newest escapade for his own Alt Sax label. Yet, there's more. Howard employs an old blues lyric as the basis of his title track. Sung by Eve Packer, his frequent partner in song, the piece represents the crème de la crème of modern blues interpretations. Packer and Howard play hard-driving romps for half of the disc. Hence much of their music is rooted in energy and elan. His alto sax sings in its own inimitable manner and Packer's pipes weave flirtatiously inbetween.
To that end, "Gasoline Alley Crack-Up" comes across as the standout surefire tune. The flipside of the set welcomes the piano of Bobby Few and the drums of Bobby Kapp, both frequent running mates of Howard and also improvising luminaries in their own right. Sans any sort of bass, the trio works from resplendent chords and acheives some fervently enacted three-way dialogues and semi-structured hodgepodges. Therefore at times they drift apart, only to coalesce at various points. It's sort of like capturing or perhaps fabricating more voices or tonalities out of their instruments, where they transmit divergent contrasts via a mulitfarious approach and mostly avoid pre-conceived notions by bending the rules a bit. Utimately it's a journey of discovery and expansion.
Of course, the program is far from typical easy listening type fare. Essentially, the entire production demands the listeners' attention and imaginative powers. Shiny laurels and his own share of kudos are owed Howard for this endearing affair. (Feverishly and platitudinously recommended!)
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.