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Hardbopjazz

Howard Alden

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In March I caught his trio at Smalls in NY. I can't decide yet if I like his playing. Anyone have an opinion on his playing? Any recordings of his worth picking up?

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In March I caught his trio at Smalls in NY. I can't decide yet if I like his playing. Anyone have an opinion on his playing? Any recordings of his worth picking up?

I certainly enjoy his playing, and every album of his that I have. though I probably gravitate more to guitar players whose style is slightly more modern, like Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Raney, Kenny Burrell, and Jim Hall. But Alden is definitely a fine player. One of his CD's I highly recommend is a two guitar quartet album he made with Jimmy Bruno on Concord. The name of it escapes me at the moment but the guitarists are well separated on left and right channels and make a compatible but somewhat contrasting combination.

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I concur on the Howard Alden/Jimmy Bruno duo. Check this out:

300x300.jpg

They do great versions of both "Jaguar" and "Sixty Four Bars on Wilshire".

(The Herb Ellis/Joe Pass mention is of a different album, packed as a two-pack with the Alden/Bruno.)

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i enjoy his playing as well. my favorite is take your pick on concord, which also features renee rosnes and lew tabackin.

takeyourpick.jpg

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Howard Alden is present in a high percentage of the best mainstream recordings from the last 15-20 years. His name is a life-insurance of good jazz!

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Anybody who covers Herbie Nichols gets a listen from me. I think that's on Take Your Pick, which I recommend.

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51XVEKEW0AL._SL500_AA240_.jpg

...gets my vote. Lovely solo album.

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He played well in New Orleans at jazzfest recently. His duet with Anat Cohen on Shreveport Stomp was electrifying.

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Guys like Howard Alden, and Alden in particular, drive me nuts with their IMO dumpy complacency within the style they favor and have every right to favor if they'd would or could do more than, for the most part, just present it to us. The best corrective, I think, if corrective there be, is comparison/contrast. Leaving aside a unique genius like Jimmy Raney (that wouldn't be fair to most of the guitarists on the planet), here is a track by the late Joe Puma, who stylistically is in about the same place Alden is or would like to be:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpJz7eTZ85E

A world of difference, I think, in terms of liveliness and inventiveness within, again, a similar stylistic framework. BTW, when Puma recorded that track he was 37 -- younger than Alden is now.

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I like him.

He's on a Randy Sandke Quartet CD called Unconventional Wisdom which is very nice (no piano in the group).

He's been just fine in person too.

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41QCK2VW38L._SL500_AA240_.jpg

This one's very nice too (though the cover doesn't help his cause!).

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Alden is a marvelous guitarist with considerable versatility in technique and style, and great taste in choosing material. He is also widely regarded as a very humble and sweet man. I thought this really came through when he was interviewed by Marian McPartland on her "Piano Jazz" show some years back.

The first recording of his that I ever bought was "Snowy Morning Blues" (1990), which includes tunes by Ellington, Monk, and James P. Johnson. I think it's still my favorite Alden recording.

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Good to read such a warm, generous comment, Jim.

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A nice guy, I met him a few years back when we booked him at our club and he kindly signed the booklet to the Tal Farlow Mosaic for me.

My guess is that he can play more or less anything but he prefers to work in a mostly mainstream-ish style.

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