Noah Howard / April 6, 1943 - Sept 3, 2010

Noah Howard was underknown as a sax player to many, yet was a vital figure in the landscape of out-jazz, recording albums for ESP-Disk, America, Freedom, CIMP, Free Music Productions, Ayler Recordings and his own AltSax imprint, among others.

Born in New Orleans, he was deeply inspired by John Coltrane and Albert Ayler and cut a couple of disks on the legendary underground NYC label ESP in the mid-'60s. In '68 he left the States, living most of the rest of his life in Europe (as well as some time in Kenya).

He played on Archie Shepp's amazing Black Gypsy album in '69 and Pitchin' Can in '70. He was a member of Frank Wright's Center Of The World group in the late '60s/early '70s before playing jazz-funk, reggae and world music from the mid-'70s-early '90s, while also running a studio and nightclub. He returned to the improviser's world as interest in his old records was picking up.

I would like to point the readers to the incredible Eremite CD issue of two seminal Howard albums, Patterns ('71) and Message To South Africa, which featured anti-apartheid positioning and employed the great Johnny Dyani and Chris McGregor, two artists who were exiled from South Africa. "Message" included a perversion of the South African national anthem and never saw a release when it was recorded in '79 for Mercury, withheld due to "militancy". This disk included both of these albums and is highly recommended, blazing free jazz protest that is international in scope. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the album on Youtube, but it remains my favorite.

Here's another classic of his, recorded for the ESP-Disk imprint in '66:

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