One of free jazz's more enigmatic figures, alto saxophonist Noah Howard was documented so infrequently on record and spent so much time living in Europe that the course of his career and development as a musician remain difficult to trace, despite a late-'90s renewal of interest in his music.
Howard was born in New Orleans in 1943 and began playing music in church as a child. He started out on trumpet (the instrument he played in the military during the early '60s) but subsequently switched to alto, and got in on the ground floor of the early free jazz movement. Most influenced by Albert Ayler, Howard made his debut as a leader for the groundbreaking ESP label, recording a pair of dates in 1966 (Noah Howard Quartet and At Judson Hall).
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