Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Alden, Howard (Vincent)

Alden, Howard (Vincent) , guitar; b. Newport Beach, CA, 17 October, 1958. Alden grew up in Riverside, CA and Portland OR with his parents John Roger Alden (b. 1930) and Arlene Verdet Cooper (1936-1972) and sister, Leslie Kay Cooper (b. 1957). He settled in Huntington Beach, CA from age 6 until 17.

He was inspired by his parents' recordings of Armstrong, Basie, Goodman, and others, and enjoyed the guitarists on TV shows like "Hee Haw." He was first introduced to jazz by Jim Elsaas, who was a part time tenor banjo and guitar player and played him records by Barney Kessel and others. At about 10 years old, he found a 4 string guitar and 4 string banjo at home; his parents took him to a music store for lessons, and the teacher switched him to the tenor banjo. He met Jim Elsaas when he was 12; he was already interested in jazz, but Elsaas introduced him to the classic jazz guitarists (Kessel, Farlow, Christian, Burrell, Django, Jim Hall, Van Eps, Pass/Ellis, Wayne/Puma). He started studying with Jimmy Wyble when he was 16, on the recommendation of Barney Kessel (he had called Kessel for lessons but he couldn't take any students at the time). He continued to do most of his professional work on the banjo, performing at pizza parlors and shopping malls and the like. He went to college for one semester at Cal State at Fullerton. From about age 19, he concentrated on guitar, moving to Hollywood to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) 1977-1978. Before he started at GIT, he took a 3 day seminar with Howard Roberts, then some weekly small group lessons, and while at the Institute he spent many late nights helping Roberts organize and write down the curriculum for GIT. He also had a few private lessons with Joe Diorio prior to GIT starting, then classes with him at GIT. Ron Eschete and Mundell Lowe taught classes too, as well as Don Mock, a music history/harmony/composition teacher named Mac McKernan, a jazz improv teacher/saxophonist Thom Mason, and many guest instructors including Joe Pass

He was soon himself teaching at G.I.T., when in the summer of 1979, he spent four months with Red Norvo's trio in Atlantic City. Upon moving to New York City in 1982, his first major gig was playing at the Hotel Carlyle with Joe Bushkin's quartet. He and Dan Barrett put together the Alden-Barrett Quintet, in 1985, for which neighbor Buck Clayton wrote some arrangements. Also gigs with Bobby Scott(1983), and Red Norvo again in 1983, 1984.

He worked with Ruby Braff, Joe Williams, Warren Vache, Woody Herman (1984), and then Benny Carter, Flip Phillips, Mel Powell, Bud Freeman, Kenny Davern, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and many others. In 1991, Concord Records president Carl Jefferson recorded Alden with George Van Eps, through whose inspiration Alden has been playing the seven-string guitar exclusively since 1992. Benedetto guitars makes a Howard Alden Model,(actually, soon to be produced-probably next year).

Alden can be heard on the soundtrack to the 1999 Woody Allen movie "Sweet and Low Down," and he also coached Penn on playing the guitar for his role in the film.

He has been married to vocalist Terrie Richards Alden since 1993.

"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.

Howard Alden Plays the Music of Harry Reser with Dick Hyman; No Amps Allowed Howard Alden & Jack Lesberg(1988); Swing Street(1987); The ABQ Salutes Buck Clayton (1989); Snowy Morning Blues (1990); Thirteen Strings with George Van Eps (1991); Misterioso (1991); Hand Crafted Swing with George Van Eps (1992); A Good (1993); Seven & Seven with George Van Eps (1993); Keepin' Time with George Van Eps; Fujitsu Concord Jazz Festival Silver Anniversary Set (2 CD set) Howard Alden Trio - 5 selections (released 1994); Your Story - The Music of Bill Evans (1994); Encore (1995); Concord Jazz Guitar Collective with Jimmy Bruno and Frank Vignola (1995); Full Circle with Jimmy Bruno (1995); Take Your Pick; My Shining Hour; Sweet and Lowdown (1998);In A Mellow Tone (2003)
As sideperson:
Scott Hamilton: Race Point, Groovin' High; Benny Carter And Dizzy Gillespie:
I'm In The Mood For Swing; Ken Peplowski: It's A Lonesome Old Town, Live At Ambassador Auditorium Concord, Live At Maybeck Recital Hall (Duo), Steppin' With Peps, Illuminations, Sonny Side; Dick Hyman: Cheek To Cheek; Mel Powell: The Return Of Mel Powell; Kenny Davern: Breezin' Along, My Inspiration, I'll See You In My Dreams, One Hour Tonight; Ruby Braff: As Time Goes By, Cornet Chop Suey,
New England Songhounds Vols. 1 & 2, Bravura Eloquence, Me, Myself and I; The Newport Jazz Festival All-Stars: Swing that Music; Warren Vache: Easy Going,
Talk to Me Baby; Flip Phillips: A Real Swinger, Try a Little Tenderness; Mel Torme: The Paramount Singer; Bobby Short & The Alden-Barrett Quintet:
Swing That Music; Susanah Mccorkle: Easy To Love, I'll Take Romance, Someone to Watch Over Me; With Others: Steve Allen Plays Jazz Tonight; Bucky Pizzarelli: A Portrait; Carol Sloane: When I Look in Your Eyes; Jerome Richardson: Jazz Station; Butch Miles/Howard Alden: Soulmates (previously issued as Cookin);
Unissued recordings:
Produced his own album at about age 14.
Recorded a few tapes when he was 17 or 18.

Just Jazz Guitar, Feb 1995 Q & A with Ed Benson
20th Century Guitar, Feb 1996 interview by Jim Fisch
Twentieth Century Guitar; Dec 1999
Interviews with the Jazz Greats...and More! Mel Bay Publications, Inc. by Charles Chapman (2001)
JazzTimes Before and After with Howard Alden by Steve Smith, August 2001

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