JazzTimes, widely regarded as the world’s leading jazz publication, featured Christian Howes in their January/February 2011 issue. In the article, author Geoffrey Himes, paraphrases the musical awakening of Howes which culminates in his latest album, Out of the Blue (Resonance Records).
Christian Howes’ new album explores that transitional passage as music comes out of the blues and into jazz. The recording is called, aptly, Out of the Blue (Resonance), and the title track, a Howes composition, examines that journey in slow motion. When the 38-year-old violinist, his small brown fiddle tucked under his enormous square jaw, first played the tune at Baltimore’s An Die Musik Live! in November, it was as a slow blues with a slippery, syncopated rhythm and a suggestive vocal-like purr. But the second solo was something different: a slow hymn, all humble reverence and sustained tone. Howes seemed to be explaining how gospel music was the midwife that delivered jazz out of its blues womb.
Himes intersperse his article with praise for Christian’s playing and insights from both Howes and Robben Ford, legendary guitarist and guest artist on the album.
“It was a different kind of music making than I’d ever experienced,” Howes says in relation to his introduction to jazz through the gospel church music experience, “because there was a different relationship between the musicians and the listeners…”
“I first met Christian when we were both working with Bill Evans at Jazz Alley in Seattle,” Ford recounts over the phone. “Christian was mind-blowing; he’s a straight-up virtuoso of the violin. It was ostensibly a jazz thing, but we were also playing blues and rock in that context, and it was astonishing to me what he could do in each setting. A guy like Christian, all they have to do is give him a stage and everybody is going to dig it.”