Earl Howard is known primarily as a virtuoso saxophonist; however, over time he has quietly become one of the most innovative and successful saxophonists of his generation. Born in 1951 in Los Angeles, California, Earl has gradually made a name for himself since graduating from the California Institute of the Arts in 1974. His command of the saxophone has led him down an exploratory path of free styled avant-garde jazz, while also pushing the envelope of sound with his own creative ideas.
Since embarking upon his own career, Howard has embedded himself in the intuitive aspects of his craft, as well as the exploration of the inner and outer most dimensions of his saxophone. His latest CD entitled 5 Saxophone Solos on the Mutable Music Record Label continues a formula that is firmly entrenched in a number of finely-tuned improvisational complexities.
When attempting to understand the purpose of Earl Howard’s music, carrying an album as a solo entity is a major undertaking. By all accounts, that is not a task easily accomplished under most circumstances. As a voice of hope in the midst of smooth jazz chaos, Earl’s modeling of abstract notes tied to influxes of modal sound has allowed him to deliver an imaginative freewheeling effort.
What is most apparent about this CD is Howard's propensity to depart from the known influences of established tradition. Overall, there are any number of paradigm shifts that deviate from any normal comparative analysis or influence. Howard’s sense of individualism has pointed him in a direction devoid of any speculation about who 5 Saxophone Solos could be modeled after. At various times, Earl has been mentioned in the same breath with Anthony Braxton’s style of play as well as those of other abstract saxophonists; however, much of what he has done is originality at its finest. In addition, the tonal quality exhibited by Howard is dynamic and has a personality that emphasizes the depth and spirit of this effort. Without a doubt, if there is a desire to experience the full expanses of free jazz as a connoisseur are waiting to be pursued, then Earl Howard’s 5 Saxophone Solos is a recording that will titillate your listening palate.