Kit Eakle's DjangoSphere with
Howard Alden, 7 String Guitar
"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 observed that he is "...one of the very finest young guitarists working today."
Born in Newport Beach, California, in 1958, Howard Alden began playing at age ten, inspired by guitarists Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and George Van Eps. Soon he was working professionally around Los Angeles. 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 Ruby Braff, Joe Williams, Warren Vaché, Woody Herman, Benny Carter, Flip Phillips, Mel Powell, Bud Freeman, Kenny Davern, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and George Van Eps, as well as notable contemporaries Scott Hamilton and Ken Peplowski.
Howard Alden has been a Concord Jazz recording artist since the late '80s where his prolific recorded output 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 Alden recorded with one of his all-time heroes, seven-string guitar master George Van Eps on the album 'Thirteen Strings.' As a result, Alden has been playing the seven-string guitar since 1992, imparting a greater range and harmonic richness to Alden's already colorful tonal palette, as evidenced on three follow-up albums with Van Eps.
Howard Alden can be heard on the soundtrack to the 1999 Woody Allen movie "Sweet and Lowdown", starring Sean Penn, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as a legendary jazz guitarist in the '30s. Howard not only played all the guitar solos, but also coached Mr. Penn on playing the guitar for his role in the film.
The London Observer had this to say about Alden, "If there is such a thing as a complete jazz guitarist, then Alden is it." In 2004 Howard was the guitarist(and musical director) chosen for an all-star line-up commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival, touring 50 cities of the United States in addition to their appearance at the Newport Festival.
Howard Alden was voted "Best Emerging Talent-Guitar" in the first annual JazzTimes critics' poll, 1990, and "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" in the 1996, 1992, 1993 and 1995 Downbeat critics' poll. In February of 2009, Howard was recognized as a “Modern Maestro”, one of DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE’S 75 Great Guitarists of all time!
Don Bennett, Bennett-Clevenger Bass
Donald H. Bennett has been a San Francisco model builder and professional bass player for thirty-five years. A long-time friend of Martin Clevenger, he designed and built the Clevenger Bennett in 1995, primarily as a carry-on for traveling musicians. Oklahoma born, Bennett has been building musical instruments since the 1970’s. During his college years and throughout his military service, he played both bass and tuba. He currently rehearses two seventeen-piece big bands in his model shop at 20 Lucerne Street in San Francisco and gigs in many other ensembles.
Rory Judge, Drums
A veteran of the San Francisco Rock scene in the late 1970's and early 80's, Rory played with a wide variety of bands from punk to rockincluding the Roots Rock Trio "The GoldDiggers" and "Petty Theft," a Tom Petty tribute band.
But his first love is jazz. He can be seen with the jazz band "On the Air". Rory has performed with many local and national jazz musicians including Howard Alden. His drum arsenal includes vintage drums and cymbals. When it comes to his set up, like his drumming...less is more. "I don't like a lot of drums, cymbals or fills on stage. I do like to... make it swing." Rory inherited from his uncle, the legendary jazz drummer, Jake Hanna's vintage drum set and it is heard on this DjangoSphere recording.