All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Noah Howard: The Black Ark

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Noah Howard's 1969 album The Black Ark has, in an unintended way, lived up to its name in recent years. It has become, to free jazz obsessives, a sort of Ark of the Covenant, a fabled and much sought after grail and jazz message boards lit up when it was announced that the British label Bo'Weavil would be putting the album out on CD.

Recent years have also shown a renewed interest in Howard's career, with new recordings on CIMP, Cadence, Ayler and Boxholder and an important reissue on Eremite pairing his 1971 album Patterns (by a sextet that included Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg) with an unreleased 18-minute track from 1979 called "Message to South Africa" (with Johnny Dyani, Kali Fasteau, Noel McGee and Chris McGregor), recorded for Mercury in France but unissued because of its perceived militancy.

The Black Ark was Howard's third record as a leader. Released by Polydor after two ESP titles, it should have been his breakthrough. Instead it broke him. Unhappy with the lack of support for free jazz in the states, within three years he had left for Paris, eventually moving again to Belgium where he still lives. Record labels at the time were scrambling to figure out what was going on in jazz as well as rock and many worthy albums didn't get the proper promotion and distribution and were lost in the shuffle.

But The Black Ark was one that should have risen to the top. It is, in a sense, the missing link between Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp. Simple yet insistent melodies scream through the twin saxophones of Howard and, on his recording debut, Arthur Doyle before breaking down into strident, freeform marches. Like Ayler and Shepp, Howard here favors tunes that feel like work songs, or even nursery rhymes. With a third horn (Earl Cross on trumpet), the front line flies over the rumbling rhythms of Leslie Waldron (piano), Norris Sirone Jones (bass), Mohammed Ali (drums) and Juma (conga). Compared to the mountains of recordings released in today's market, the discography of revolutionary (politically and musically) jazz from the late '60s is rather small and it's fantastic to hear another piece of the picture.

Track Listing: Domiabra; Ole Negro; Mount Fuji; Queen Anne.

Personnel: Noah Howard: alto saxophone; Arthur Doyle: tenor saxophone; Earl Cross: trumpet; Leslie Waldron: piano; Norris Jones: bass; Mohammed Ali: drums; Juma: conga.

Title: The Black Ark | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Bo'Weavil


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
The Bremen Concert

The Bremen Concert

Jazt Tapes

The Black Ark

The Black Ark



At Documenta IX

Boxholder Records


Red Star

Boxholder Records


Related Articles

Read This City CD/LP/Track Review
This City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 24, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2018
Read West Coast Trio CD/LP/Track Review
West Coast Trio
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Sun Embassy CD/LP/Track Review
Sun Embassy
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 24, 2018
Read The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9 CD/LP/Track Review
The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "From Outer Space" CD/LP/Track Review From Outer Space
by Thad Aerts
Published: March 11, 2018
Read "A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That" CD/LP/Track Review A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That
by James Nadal
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "Invisible Threads" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Threads
by Samuel Stroup
Published: January 24, 2018
Read "A New Shade Of Blue" CD/LP/Track Review A New Shade Of Blue
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "The Unknowable" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknowable
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 20, 2018