REVIEWS AND PUBLICATION/RADIO MENTIONS
• Featured on “Clarinet Corner,” a weekly program Troy
University Public Radio hosted by clarinet professor Timothy
Phillips. April 7, 2013. The program is devoted to a
different clarinetist each week.
• Howell’s CD, “JAZZ CLARINET NOW,” was reviewed by
Eliot Caroom in The
Baltimore Jazz Alliance Newsletter. November 2012.
Review Highlights: “…there’s a really nice mix of melodic
straight-ahead jazz (see ‘Blues for a Sicilian Friend’ and
‘The Phone Call’) with more out-sounding music. File the
third track, ‘The Pot Melts,’ under out-sounding…This is the
hip track you’d share with friends if you wanted to get
their attention…There’s a lot to like here, running the
gamut from tight traditional tunes to looser, freer,
freakier stuff…” – Eliot Caroom, Baltimore Jazz Alliance
2012, pg 3.
• Howell’s CD, “JAZZ CLARINET NOW,” was reviewed by
William Nichols in
The Clarinet. March 2012.
Review Highlights: “…This CD includes 10 tracks of amazingly
varied styled tunes, all composed by the clarinetist. He is
assisted by very talented sidemen: Alex Brown, piano; Tal
Gamlieli, bass; and Matt Rousseau, drums…He possesses an
impressively smooth and big technique, and produces somewhat
multi-colored timbres which enhance the palettes of the
varying styles represented in his compositions. His tenor
sax and flute sounds, as heard on a single track each, are
warm and effective. Improvisational skills are impressively
free flowing and interesting…The mix and juxtaposition of
compositional styles on this disc is an appealing aspect of
programming not often found in jazz recordings. Notable
examples of style-swings go from serial jazz, ‘Siwwy
Babbitt,’ to the appealing Ellington-like ballad ‘The Phone
Call,’ to ‘The Pot Melts,’ which Howell describes as ‘…like
an avant-garde classical piece meets hip hop meets the jazz
clarinet.’ Another unique and interesting tune is ‘Without
Reason,’ which employs some wild pointillism, multiphonics,
free rhythm, and some inexplicable sounds emitted from
Howell’s instrument. In a more traditional vein is the
particularly attractive Tony Scott-inspired ‘Blues for a
Sicilian Friend,’ the flute ballad ‘Looking Back,’ and the
liquid playing of the straight ahead modern jazz of ‘A Line
of Mine.’ …For strict jazz purists some of the music
contained here is not jazz, but then again perhaps it is
Jazz Clarinet Now. Quoting program-note writer Scott Yanow:
‘Every selection on Jazz Clarinet Now is quite a bit
different than the previous one, and humor is rarely
lacking. This is the most impressive debut by a jazz
clarinetist in decades. One waits with anticipation to see
what Joseph Howell comes up with next.’ ”—William Nichols,
“Audio Notes,” The Clarinet, Volume 39, Number 2, March
2012, pg 13.
• Howell’s performance at ClarinetFest 2011 was
reviewed by Gary Gray, clarinet professor at UCLA.
Review Highlights: The concert featured clarinetists Joseph
Howell and Brian Walsh in a well planned format which gave
them each solo time with the excellent rhythm section of
pianist Kevin Su Nakagawa, bassist Colin Burgess, and
drummer Trevor Anderies...I particularly enjoyed the high
level of improvisation displayed by Joseph and Brian where
it became impossible to tell which sections were part of a
worked-out arrangement and which were
spontaneous improv. They were taking chances and succeeding
like seasoned jazz professionals! The next few pieces were
originals by Joseph and featured him on Bb with the rhythm
section. He got a chance to stretch out and take extended
improvisations and I was impressed with his original
approach which was really refreshing. He didn't sound like a
copy of any particular jazz icon, from Benny Goodman to
Eddie Daniels and/or others in between. Joseph has a really
centered sound and great control. He can go into and out of
the extreme altissimo, following his melodic thought process
with no problems, and his long flowing lines are fascinating
to follow! The next few tunes featured Brian Walsh
alternating bass clarinet and Bb clarinet. Brian also has
his own style: somewhat more avant-garde and exploratory
than Joseph's but equally fascinating! ...The concert
finished with Joseph and Brian together again in sympattico
fashion and made me very glad I had chosen to hear these
outstanding young artists. It would be great if this event
had been recorded and made available to all of our ICA
colleagues! - Gary Gray (Clarinet Professor, The UCLA Herb
Alpert School of Music)
• Howell’s CD, “JAZZ CLARINET NOW,” was reviewed by
Greg Simmons at All About Jazz. October 9, 2011.
Review Highlights: …Howell's playing would be at home in
contemporary straight-ahead setting, and perhaps some more
adventurous gigs as well. His grasp of the jazz vernacular
is up-to-date and forward-thinking…Howell has a warm, full
sound, and can often be found in the clarinet's fatter lower
register, emphasizing the instrument's woody textures. He
also picks up the tenor sax and flute on a couple of tracks.
His co-conspirators are first rate, with standout piano work
from Alex Brown…The album reaches an outré apex with ‘The
Pot Melts.’ Opening with plodding discord, the piercing
chaos gives way to a reinterpreted hip-hop beat, played
acoustically. The clarinet —overdubbed to fill out the sound
a little—drops an abstruse melody with some subtle
electronic effects added. The piano provides a heavy sonic
floor that anchors the piece with both bass weight and
rhythm. It's a real attention- getter and, at a mere two
minutes long, brings to mind another cliché: ‘Always leave
them wanting more.’…‘Siwwy Babbitt’ is an example of
everything Howell does right. A slightly funky melody over
some soft block chords opens, before Howell drifts off into
expanded, imaginative improvisation. Howell has studied
under the great tenor Jerry Bergonzi, and he's taken those
lessons to heart. That he delivers his improvisations on an
instrument that almost qualifies as ‘rare’ in contemporary
jazz just makes it that much more satisfying… Howell's
effort to show the clarinet in a contemporary jazz setting
is credible, and ultimately successful. The record could
just as easily have been called ‘Jazz Now,’ and it would
still have been spot on.” –Greg Simmons, All About Jazz
• Howell’s Performance at ClarinetFest 2011 was
praised in The Clarinet (vol 39, no 2). December 2011.
Special kudos go to clarinetists Joseph Howell and Brian
Walsh for their refreshing and esthetically exciting
performance that combined the heavily avant- garde with
jazz. - Timothy and Katrina Phillips, ClarinetFest 2011: A
Review, The Clarinet, Volume 39, Number 1, pg 38.
• Howell’s Performance at the Turquoise Café was
reviewed by Robert Bush at San
Diego Reader. September 8, 2011.
Review Highlights: ...Howell's got loads of credentials,
including three degrees
in music from CSU Northridge, San Diego State and the
prestigious New England Conservatory of Music...Most of the
music Howell selected would have fit comfortably on a Blue
Note release from the mid-sixties, sort of straddling the
divide between the absolute mainstream and more adventurous
stuff...Howell chose a program of all original material, and
while it would have been nice to throw in a few standards or
modern classics from the books of Parker, 'Trane or Mingus,
the originals served the clarinetist well as improvisational
vehicles for his astonishing technical abilities...Whatever
style he is playing, Howell has a seemingly endless fountain
of ideas flowing out of his horn. The highlight moments, for
me, were when he chose to incorporate ‘extended-techniques’
like multiphonics into his soloing...Violist Karen Hopkins
sat in on several pieces, and the blend of her dark strings
with the clarinet was sublime...If you think that the
clarinet is somehow square, (it's not the most popular jazz
instrument), check out Joseph Howell—he's got the goods. -
Robert Bush (Blogs – Jam Session, San Diego Reader)
• Howell’s performance qualities were mentioned by
Bart Mendoza in the Beach and Bay Press. September 11, 2011.
Highlights: ...clarinet player Howell is a master of both
classical and jazz sounds, inspired by the likes of Artie
Shaw and Sidney Bechet. Though Howell’s music is by no means
retro, it will strike a chord with anyone who has a few Blue
Note albums in their collection... - Bart Mendoza (Live
Music, Beach and Bay
• Howell’s CD, “JAZZ CLARINET NOW,” was listed as
“Good Listening!” in the
“Recent Arrivals” section (pg 15) of William Nichols’ “Audio
Notes,” in the June
• 2011 of The Clarinet (Volume 38, Number 3). Review
of 3-13-08 DMA Recital (1 of 2):
...It was dazzling, as I might have expected. The array of
pieces and styles was
impressive, and represented a considerable amount of
carefully-absorbed influence from contemporary classical
music...His own playing was not just virtuosic. It was also
capable of restraint and simplicity. At times he reached for
the extremes of his technique—range especially. In the end,
impressive as it was, it was not just showy, but left
listeners with an impression of considerable depth:
historical savvy, intellectual underpinning, an equilibrium
between compositional structure and improvisational chops,
and balance among the ensemble players. I can't imagine
anyone hearing this and not being impressed with his range
and command. His quirkiness and eccentricity is also
completely evident, but in the context, it adds a necessary
bit of humor and warmth to an event which otherwise might
have been more easily taken as a showcase—-Robert Labaree,
Chair: Music History Department, NEC (as emailed to artist).
• Review of 3-13-08 DMA Recital (2 of 2):
...I thoroughly enjoyed your recital. Both the compositions
and the performances were extraordinary, especially in the
diversity of styles represented in the program. The unison
playing between you and the sax was amazing; it sounded like
a single instrument. Your tuning was so perfect in ‘Doom
Groove’ that the
7ths and 9ths sounded consonant by the end of the piece.
Your tone and tuning is perfectly consistent from the lowest
to the highest registers and your sound is beautiful, even
when playing in the stratosphere. The drum and clarinet duet
‘Without Reason’ was amazing; I loved this tune. But ‘Phone
Call’ was by far my favorite number in the program. The
change in tone color was striking; a very moving piece.
Thank you for a memorable experience—-Tom Handel: Dean of
Students, Professor of Musicology, Co-Director of the DMA
Program, NEC (as emailed to artist).
• Online User Review of “JAZZ CLARINET NOW” (CD) (1 of
The Real Deal...I must agree with Scott Yanow; this is a
most impressive debut...and it's four-fur, because all of
these guys can really play. There isn't one raggedy, out of
synch solo to be found. Each soloist demonstrates their
ability to melodically, spontaneously and creatively weave
themselves perfectly into the fabric of each piece. It
reminds me of when I first heard Charles Lloyd with Jack
DeJohnette, Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee and Ron McClure. They
can all do it well. However, it's Howell who really
shines...He's the latest standard bearer for a very long
but, over the last 50+ years, thin line of jazz
clarinetists. He's got IT! The
new Dalai Lama of the clarinet. We've been awaiting your
exemplary technique, cleverness and your hip-ness. He also
has great influences. Russell, Giuffre, Daniels, etcetera.
They're very apparent. He also plays one track on tenor sax
and one on flute…Howell has the ability to become part of a
very special fraternity of great jazz clarinetists…—-jksp:
Calgary, Canada (review on www.cduniverse.com).
• Online User Review of “JAZZ CLARINET NOW” (CD) (2 of
“Great Stuff! This is really an excellent album. Everything
Howell and his group do is satisfyingly adventurous, yet
supremely entertaining. On this recording you will find a
truly amazing balancing act between entertainment and
exploration. Joseph is a virtuosic player, to say the least.
But his humor and style make this recording worthy of
several back-to-back hearings. Joseph twists his fingers
around some sophisticated figures for sure. The players he's
assembled here compliment his style perfectly, and they play
an active role in all of his tunes. The standout track for
me is ‘The Pot Melts.’ It REALLY grooves. I only wish it was
longer! This is NOT YOUR OLD UNCLE LARRY on clarinet. It's
new, hip, and really fun to listen to. You won't regret
buying it, I promise.—-Mark DeSimone (review on
• Howell’s sideman performance on Rick Helzer’s CD
“Face in the Mirror” was reviewed by David Dupont of One
Final Note: Jazz and Improvised Music Webzine. May 16, 2005.
Highlights: “But lesser known musicians shine as well here.
‘Tell Your Story (To Meade Lux Lewis)’ is a fortuitous
combination of lead horn and style. In clarinetist Joseph
Howell’s hands, the playful theme skips along under the
leader’s carefully modulated stride that has just the
faintest antique touch.”
• Howell’s sideman performance on Rick Helzer’s CD
“Face in the Mirror” was reviewed by James Taylor of All
Highlights: “‘Tell Your Story’ is a fantastic duet between
Helzer and Howell,
sounding like Gershwin kicking it in the Bay Area.”
• Featured in “Jazz on Campus,” Down Beat magazine.
June 1999 (Volume 66, Number 6), pg. 72. Picture and short
bio in recognition of winning second place in the Lincoln B.
Selleck “Bix Lives” Jazz Awards Competition and awards from
the International Association of Jazz Educators, the
California Music Educators Association and the Stanford Jazz
• Mentioned by Henry Winkler in The Porterville
Recorder. May 31, 1999. pp 1A
and 5A. “Monache Stage Band Does it With Style.”
Highlights: “…Joseph Howell, who at various times soloed on
tenor sax, clarinet and bass clarinet…explored the wide
range of subtle and not-so-subtle dissonances that make
music interesting. One of Howell’s more imaginative and
dexterous clarinet solos found Kusserow shaking his head
repeatedly in awe. ‘He’s a monster,’ Kusserow said, leaning
excitedly across the table. ‘Kids don’t play that way. Those
notes he played – you can’t teach that. There’s a gift there
you just have to admire.’ Shaffer agreed. ‘Kid’s fantastic,’
he said. ‘He’s ready for the big time now.’”
• Featured in an article by Henry Winkel in The
Porterville Recorder. unknown date in 1998 or 1999. pg 12A.
“Appreciation for Tonal Versatility.” Highlights: “Talk to
those who are knowledgeable about music and they’ll tell you
Joseph Howell is a talent to be reckoned with.”
QUOTATIONS OF NOTE
• ...A brilliant virtuoso whose complete control over
the clarinet and originality as both an improviser and a
composer are very impressive...This is the most impressive
debut by a jazz clarinetist in decades. One waits with
anticipation to see what Joseph comes up with next!—-Scott
Yanow (Author of ten jazz books including The Jazz Singers,
Bebop, Jazz On Record 1917-76 and Jazz On Film).
• You are a fine musician and handle your instruments
as good or better than anyone I've heard—-Buddy DeFranco
(jazz clarinet legend).
• “Joseph Howell is an astounding jazz clarinetist — a
virtuoso with complete command of the instrument, a
historian who knows the work of his predecessors inside and
out, and a creative, original improviser who sounds like no
one else. I expect that he will be one of the most important
players of his generation in extending the role of the
clarinet in modern jazz.”—-Allan Chase (Chair, Ear
Training Department, Berklee College of Music).
• Justifying the dogmatic newness of jazz and the
equally ingrained reverence for tradition can be tough for
any jazz musician – but for a guy who plays the
clarinet, an instrument seemingly shackled to the swing era,
and who likes to play straight-ahead music in small groups?
Seems like a crippling proposition. But Joseph Howell's got
the chops, and the appetite for risk, to make energizing
music in spite of the circumstances... - Capital Bop
• “Joseph was especially good at presenting the
intricacies of harmony in a concise, direct way. He taught
me about harmony from the ground up, rather than jumping
from one idea to another. Joseph has a full understanding of
the variables improvisers face, so he can easily step into a
student's shoes and prescribe specific exercises to address
specific musical issues, much like a (medical) doctor. Dr.
Howell was also the only teacher I had who would actually
play through an exercise, step by step, with me. Something
about playing so many of those chord tone and shape
exercises in unison made them sink in more. Not only that, I
experienced them more like real music, rather than boring
exercises. Joseph is
free with his knowledge, methodical, and patient.”—-Vivek
Patel (former private jazz lessons student and fellow
graduate of the NE Conservatory of Music; Vivek has recorded
as a trumpeter on Paquito D’Rivera’s CD label).
• “During the past six years, I have had the pleasure
of knowing, working with and providing instruction for
Joseph Howell. From the very beginning, I have felt that he
was one of the greatest talents I have had the pleasure of
working with in my fifty years of teaching school. He
possesses a very high ability in the field of creative jazz.
He also plays fine legitimate clarinet.” —- the late Frank
“Buck” Shaffer, 1921-2006 (esteemed band director in
Virginia and California from the
1940s through the 1990s).
Willing to teach:
COLLEGE TEACHING EXPERIENCE
• Fundamentals of Music Theory. Teaching Fellowship: Music
Theory Department, New England Conservatory of Music. Fall
• Keyboard II and III (Labs of Tonal Practice II and III).
Music Theory Deparment, NEC. Spring 2008.
• Teaching Assistant to Allan Chase. Jazz Styles: 1917-1955.
NEC. Spring 2008.
• Teaching Assistant to Katarina Markovic-Stokes.
Expressionism in Music.
NEC. Spring 2006.
• Non-Majors’ Jazz Ensemble. Teaching Fellowship: Jazz
Studies Department, New England Conservatory. Fall 2006
through Spring 2008.
• Jazz Combo #3. San Diego State University. Fall 2004.
OTHER CLASSROOM TEACHING EXPERIENCE
• Full-Time Band Director for the Paul Effman Music Service.
Fall 2010-Spring 2011. Taught beginning band instrument
classes at eight private schools in the San Diego area.
• Assistant Beginning Music Teacher at Bertrand’s Music (San
Diego, CA). June 2004 through August 2004. 5th grade classes
(2-30 students each). Beginning clarinet, flute, saxophone,
trumpet, trombone, and violin.
PRIVATE INSTRUCTION AND SECTION-COACHING EXPERIENCE
Approximately 15 years of private studio instruction
Lessons given: beginning clarinet, recorder, trumpet,
saxophone, classical piano, flute, jazz improvisation, rock
drumset, jazz drumset, snare drum fundamentals, and jazz
piano; advanced clarinet, saxophone, jazz improvisation,
jazz theory, jazz piano comping, big band interpretation,
and jazz composition/arranging.
• Guest Jazz/Saxophone Clinician. Herndon High School.
October 26, 2012.
• Guest Clarinet Clinician. Herndon High School. October 25,
• “Clarinet and Saxophone Day.” Escondido High School.
January 24, 2009.
• Jazz/Clarinet Masterclass. California Institute of the
Arts. November 20, 2008.
• Guest Presentation: “The Clarinet” at Orchestration
seminar. Hired by John Mallia.
• Guest Lecture: Performance Forum Class. San Diego State
University. Spring 2005. “The History and Practices of Jazz
Buffet R-13 and Moennig barrel
Vandoren Reeds (sizes 3.5 and 4)
Vandoren and Jody Jazz mouthpieces
Bois, Ripamonti, and Rovner ligatures