Jazz Guitar Master
“He may be the best of his generation” – Owen Cordle, JazzTimes.
“…one of the very finest young guitarists working today.” – Chip Deffaa, New York Post
From playing all the guitar solos and coaching Sean Penn for the 1999 Woody Allen movie “Sweet and Lowdown” to being a Concord Jazz recording artist since the late ‘80s, Howard Alden has led an amazing career!
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.
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 1991, 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 since 1992.
Some highlights since picking up the seven-string guitar include the three remarkable follow-up albums with Van Eps, his 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!”
Alden’s recording from 1996 Take Your Pick serves to underline Howard’s wide scope of knowledge of jazz literature. Released in honor of Concord’s 25th anniversary was a duo recording with Jimmy Bruno, Full Circle teamed with the very first Concord recording Jazz/ Concord featuring Herb Ellis and Joe Pass.
His 2009 recording, “I REMEMBER DJANGO”, once again features his distinctive acoustic sound, developing and expanding the warm and elegant spirit of his performance in “Sweet and Low Down”. In 2018, in addition to his solo guitar work, Howard has been asked to join multi-genre violin star Nigel Kennedy in recordings and concerts.