Noah Howard

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Noah Howard in 2008

Noah Howard (April 6, 1943 – September 3, 2010)[1] was an American free jazz alto saxophonist.[2]


Born in New Orleans, Howard played music from childhood in his church.[3] He first learned trumpet and later switched to alto, tenor and soprano saxophone.[3] He was an innovator influenced by John Coltrane[4] and Albert Ayler. He studied with Dewey Johnson, first in Los Angeles and later on in San Francisco. When he moved to New York City he started playing with Sun Ra.

He recorded his first LP as a leader, Noah Howard Quartet, in 1965 and his second LP Noah Howard at Judson Hall in 1966 both for ESP Records, but found little critical acclaim in the US.[3] In the 1960s and 1970s he performed regularly in the US and Europe, moving to Paris in 1968.

In 1969, he appeared on Frank Wright's album One For John and on Black Gipsy with Archie Shepp. As leader he recorded The Black Ark [5] with Arthur Doyle among others. In 1971 he created his own record label, AltSax,[6] and published most of his music under that label.

In 1971, he recorded Patterns in the Netherlands with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. He moved to Paris in 1972, lived in Nairobi in 1982 and finally moved to Brussels in late 1982, where he had a studio and ran a jazz club. He recorded steadily through the 1970s and 1980s, exploring funk and world music in the latter decade and recording for AltSax. In the 1990s, he returned to his free-jazz origins, releasing on Cadence Jazz among other labels, and experienced a resurgence in critical acclaim. His last two albums, Desert Harmony (2008, with Omar al Faqir) and Voyage (2010), reflected his interest in World music and were influenced by Indian, Latin American and Middle Eastern music.

Noah Howard died on 3 September 2010 of a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 67. He is survived by his wife, Lieve Fransen.[7]


  • Noah Howard Quartet (NYC, 1966) with Ric Colbeck (tp), Scotty Holt (b), Dave Grant (per) (by ESP-Disk 1031)
  • At Judson Hall (NYC, 1966) with Dave Burrell (p), Norris Jones [aka Sirone] (b), Rik Colbeck (tp), Bobby Kapp (dr), Catherine Norris (cello) (by ESP-Disk 1064)
  • The Black Ark (NYC, 1969) with Arthur Doyle (ts), Earl Cross, Mohammed Ali (dr), Juma Sultan (per), Norris Jones (aka Sirone) (b), Leslie Waldron (p) (by Freedom Records 1971; reissue 2004 and 2010 by BoWeavil)
  • One for John (France, 1969) with Bobby Few (p), Muhammed Ali (dr), Frank Wright (ts) (by BYG Actuel +529336)
  • Black Gipsy (France, 1969) with Archie Shepp (ss), Earl Freeman (b), Sunny Murray (dr), Clifford Thornton (tp), Chicago Beauchamps (voc), Dave Burrell (p), Julio Finn (harm), Leroy Jenkins (viola) (by America, Prestige and Musidisc)
  • Archie Shepp - Pitchin Can (France, 1970) with Archie Shepp (ss), Bobby Few (p), Bob Reid (b), Clifford Thornton (tp), Muhammed Ali (dr), Al Shorter (flugelhorn), Lester Bowie (tp), Sunny Murray (dr), Julio Finn (harm), Noah Howard (as), Leroy Jenkins (viola), Dave Burrell (p), Earl Freeman (b), Chicago Beauchamps (voc) (by America 6106)
  • Space Dimension (France, 1970) with Frank Wright (ts), Bobby Few (p), Art Taylor (dr) (by Musicdisc Europe/America 6104)
  • Uhuru na Umoja (France, 1970) with Frank Wright (ts), Bobby Few (p), Art Taylor (dr) (by Musicdisc Europe/America and Verve; reissue 2004)
  • Live at the Village Vanguard (NYC, 1972) with Frank Lowe (ts), Robert Bruno (p), Earl Freeman (b), Juma Sultan (per), Rashied Ali (dr) (by Freedom Records FLP 40127 and Ironman records in 2004/Polydor)
  • Church Number Nine (France, recorded 1970, released 1973) with Frank Wright (ts), Bobby Few (p), Mohamed Ali (dr) (by Calumet)
  • Patterns (Netherlands, 1971) with Han Bennink (dr), Steve Boston (congas), Earl Freeman (b), Misha Mengelberg (p), Jaap Schoonhoven (g) (by Altsax Records / Re-release Eremite records MTE 19CD in 1976)
  • Live at the Swing Club (Italy, 1974) with Michael Smith (p), Noel McGhie (dr), Bob Reid (b) (by Altsax Records)
  • Tapestry - Ted Daniels Quintet (1974) with Tim Ingles (b), Jerome Cooper (dr), Kahn Jamal (vibes), Richard Daniel (g) and Ted Daniels (flugelhorn, tp) (by Altsax Records; distributed by Sub Records)
  • Live in Europe, Volume 1 (across Europe, 1975) with Takashi Kako (p), Kent Carter (b), Muhammad Ali (dr), Oliver Johnson (dr) (by Altsax Records SR 105; distributed by Sun Records)
  • Berlin Concert (Germany, 1975) with Takashi Kako (p), Kent Carter (b), Oliver Johnson (dr), Lamont Hampton (per) (by FMP Records FMP/SAJ07)
  • Patterns (re-release 1976) with Han Bennink, Steve Boston, Earl Freeman, Misha Mengelberg, Jaap Schoonhoven (by Sun Records)
  • Red Star (France, 1977) with Bobby Few (p), Guy Pederson (b), Richard Williams (tp), Kenny Clarke (b) (by Mercury Records 9101 903 / reissued by Boxholder 2001 BXH014)
  • Schizophrenic Blues (Berlin, 1977) with Itaru Oki (tp), Jean-Jacques Avenel (b), Oliver Johnson (dr) (by FMP Records)
  • Ole (re-release 1979 of Live in Europe, Volume 1) with Takashi Kako, Kent Carter, Muhammad Ali, Oliver Johnson (by Chiaroscuro Records)
  • Patterns/Message to South Africa (Paris, 1979) with Johnny Dyani (dr), Kali Fasteau [de] (s), Chris McGregor (p), Noel McGee (b) (by Eremite records)
  • Traffic (Paris recorded 1980, released 1983) with Bobby Few (p), Joe Maka (dr), Clint Jackson (b) (by L'Orsa Maggiore)
  • Migration (Belgium, 1988) with Tammy Hall (p), Marty Townsend (b), Jan Verheyen (g), Walter Metz (dr) and Lode Jansen (tp) (by Altsax Records 9009)
  • At Documenta IX (Netherlands, 1992) with Michael Joseph Smith (p), Jack Gregg (p), Chris Henderson (dr) (by Megadisc MDC 7874; reissued by Boxholder BOXHO25 in 2002)
  • Live at the Unity Temple (Chicago, 1997) with Bobby Few (p), Wilbur Morris (b), Calyer Duncan (dr) (by Ayler Records aylCD-001)
  • Expatriate Kin (USA, 1997) with Zusaan Kali Fasteau (s), Bobby Few (p) (by CIMP)
  • West from 42nd (NYC, 1997; released 1998) with Eve Packer (voc) (by Altsax Records 9008)
  • In Concert (Amsterdam, 1997; released 1998) with Bobby Few (p), James Lewis (b), Calyer Duncan (dr) (by Cadence Jazz Records CJR1084)
  • Camaraderie (NYC 1997; released 1998) with Kali Z. Fasteau (s) and Bobby Few (p), Joe Mc Phee (ts), Sonelius Smith (p), Warren Smith (b), Mike Wimberly (per), Bobby Kapp (dr) (by Flying Note 9006 / CJR 1114)
  • Between Two Eternities (NYC, 1999) with Bobby Kapp (dr) (by CJR)
  • Noah Howard Quartet: live at Copparlunden (2000) (by Ayler Records, unreleased)
  • 'Back to the Future Project (NYC, 2000) Bobby Kapp (dr, voc), Dave Burrell (p), Gene Perla (b), Billy Bang (viola) (unreleased)
  • Patterns/Message to South Africa (re-release 2000) with Han Bennink, Steve Boston, Earl Freeman, Misha Mengelberg, Jaap Schoonhoven / Johnny Dyani, Kali Fasteau, Chris McGregor, Noel McGee (by Eremite Records)
  • Red Star (re-release 2001) with Bobby Few, Guy Pederson, Richard Williams, Kenny Clarke (by Boxholder Records)
  • Live in Paris (Paris, 2001) with Boulou Ferret (g), Joe Lee Wilson (v), François Tusques (p), Jack Greg (b), Armando, Daniel Berchet (dr) (by Altsax Records 90017)
  • Middle Passage (Belgium, 2001) with J. Emmanuel (voc) (by Altsax Records 90010)
  • That Look (NYC, 2001) with Eve Packer (voc), Wilber Morris (b), Bob Cunningham (p), Warren Smith (per), Leo Izzo (g) (by Boxholder)
  • Window 9/11 (Belgium, 2002) with Eve Packer (voc), Cesare (dr), Tammy Hall (p), Marty Townsend (g), Jan Verheyden (g), Walter Metz (dr) (by Altsax Records 90020)
  • NY Woman (NYC, 2002) with Eve Packer (voc), Wilber Morris (b), Calyer Duncan (dr) (by Altsax Records 90014)
  • Dreamtime (2002; released 2003) with Lode Jansen (tp) (by Altsax Records 90022)
  • Church Number Nine (re-release 2002) with Frank Wright, Bobby Few, Mohamed Ali (by Black Keys Records)
  • The Eye of the Improviser (2003) career-spanning compilation (by Altsax Records / Distribution: Northcountry/Cadence)
  • Cruisin w/moxie (New Orleans and Brussels 2002-2003) with Cesare (dr), Tammy Hall (p), Marty Townsend (b), Jan Verheyen (g), Walter Metz (dr) (by Altsax Records 90023)
  • Live at the Village Vanguard (re-release 2004) with Frank Lowe, Robert Bruno, Earl Freeman, Juma Sultan, Rashied Ali (by Ironman Records)
  • Now Playing (NYC, 2004) with Eve Packer (voc) (by Altsax Records 6054)
  • Chris Chalfant - Convergence (2007) with Chris Chalfant (p), Noah Howard (as), Wilber Morris (b), Calyer Duncan (dr) (by Chris Chalfant Music 2306-7)
  • Entre creation et exil (2007) (by Maxime Coton for Dispersal Collectif, unreleased)
  • The Black Ark (re-release 2007) with Arthur Doyle, Earl Cross, Mohammed Ali, Juma Sultan, Norris Jones, Leslie Waldron, Earl Freeman (by Bo'Weavil Recordings)
  • Desert Harmony (Jordan, 2007) with Omar al-Faqir (p) (by Altsax Records 634479615061)
  • Transit Mission (Paris and NYC, 2009) with Bobby Kapp (dr) (by Altsax Records)
  • Voyage (Belgium, 2010) (by Altsax Records)
  • First and Last (NYC, 2010; released 2011) with Eve Packer (by Altsax Records)
  • Live in Scotland with Bobby Few (p), Grame Steven (g), Stu Ritchie (dr), Scott Cruikshank (b) (unreleased)



  1. ^ Allaboutjazz Archived 2010-09-06 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Allmusic biography
  3. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 1197/8. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  4. ^ Wilmer, Val (1977). As Serious as your life. Quartet. ISBN 0-7043-3164-0., p140
  5. ^ Gottschalk, Kurt (2009-01-17). "Cd/LP Review: The Black Ark". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  6. ^ Henkin, Andrey (2005-10-11). "Encore: Noah Howard". All About Jazz.
  7. ^ Fordham, John (2010-09-13). "Noah Howard obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-09.

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