ready to go past playing prescribed parts?

January 18, 2013

Christian Howes and Southern Exposure

BOOKING: Please email tiffany@goodmanartists.com to inquire about more information and availability.


Southern Exposure“ combines modern jazz with latin musical influences from Argentina, Spain, and Cuba, and Brazil. Adding the accordion as
another melodic instrument, “Southern Exposure” is a unique performance full of energy, master musicianship, and passion!

All-star violinist Christian Howes is celebrating the release of Southern Exposure, called “a masterful journey” by DownBeat Magazine. With the help of international accordion legend Richard Galliano, the classically-trained, jazz and blues-oriented Howes explores new territory in this homage to the music of Latin America and Spain. The uplifting melodic exchange between these virtuosos will be supported by a fiery young rhythm section.

Available as quartet (violin, piano, bass, drums) OR quintet (add accordian).

Featuring international star accordianist Richard Galliano on the recording, the touring quintet features rising star accordianist Victor Prieto, who is known for his work with both Maria Schneider and Yo-Yo Ma.

Instrumentation: Violin, accordion, keyboard, bass, and drums

Christian Howes regularly shares the spotlight with major talent. For this special project he has outdone himself. He has teamed up with world-famous accordionist Richard Galliano, who thrilled us with his brilliant bop-inspired style, deep chops, and improvisational verve.

Together they’ll play strong original material by Howes and Galliano, as well as their own takes on compositions with a Latin jazz flavor, including Brazilian favorites and Argentine tango. (Galliano is known as one of the foremost interpreters of the music of tango master Astor Piazzolla.) For a preview, check out Southern Exposure, Howes’s new recording featuring Galliano on Resonance Records. This is sure to be a fantastic night of jazz fireworks at close range, so be there when Howes and Galliano light the fuse.


“Southern Exposure” performed at Lincoln Center in New York City for an unprecedented six nights. Click here to tune into an interview with New York jazz radio station WBGO’s Josh Jackson, recorded during the ensemble’s run at Lincoln Center.

Below is a full set from their stay at Lincoln Center in New York City. You can watch it in its entirety:

More about “Southern Exposure”:

Christian Howes wants you to know that Southern Exposure is not simply another violin and accordion record, or some light-hearted evocation of Parisian café music.

“It’s deeper than that,” Howes, the 40-year-old violinist who is also an educator and online entrepreneur, says of his 13th album (counting self-produced projects).

Not that there’s anything wrong with what Howes identifies as salon fare, but it wouldn’t reflect the hearty — sometimes fierce — bite with which he and Galliano, his virtuosic Gallic match, plus pianist Josh Nelson, (with bass and drums) here tear into original material and classics from an extended Hispanic sphere of influence. The compositions and improvisations throughout Southern Exposure derive from, are influenced by and/or refer to a swath of the world that comprises not just Spain and Portugal but Mediterranean France and Italy, North Africa, the Caribbean islands, Central and South America, as well as penetration into more northern climes. Argentine tango nuevo a la Astor Piazzolla, Brazilian bossas and choros, Afro-Cuban jazz, driving post-bop and fusion rear up in the 11 pieces on this album. So do Celtic and Appalachian fiddle figures, romantic serenades and contemporary classical rigor. Howes brings it all together with masterful vitality.

Howes began as a classical student at age five and in his late teens he discovered jazz, pursuing whatever lessons in it he could find, whether in school, from street musicians, gospel church services or players he met at jam sessions around his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

Moving to New York City after graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in philosophy, Howes found his way into a circle of improvising modernists. “Many years in New York City inspired me to want to develop a more forward-looking voice,” Howes recalls. “Now I try to play in a way that’s pushing forward and still draws on the various traditions I’ve studied.”

Howes’ determination to be both far-reaching and centrally grounded may be the defining characteristic of all his projects. It surely fits this one. “The bright opening song, ‘Tá Boa, Santa? (Are You Ok, My Dear?)’ is a case in point of a complex, exciting piece with aspects of both traditional form and regenerative open-mindedness.” 

The song structure of “Aparecida,” based on a samba rhythm, is less complicated, but the musicians’ interactions are just as sensitive to the task of weaving their personal strands into a compelling whole. The title is the name of a city in Sao Paolo, where the Basilica of our Lady of Aparecida stands, a shrine to Brazil’s revered statue of the Virgin Mary.

“Oblivion” is one of the most famous compositions of Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine bandoneon hero, friend and mentor of Galliano’s. It climaxes with a stunning cadenza by Howes, but the entire ensemble stars in the performance, each quintet contributing touches that advance the drama of the piece. Similarly, “Cubano Chant” conjures the spirit of present-day salsa. 

Galliano’s reedy accordion introduces “Sanfona,” his own song from his 2007 album Luz Negra. “Richard is a very elegant man, pleasing to be around,” reports Howes. “He is a complete professional, and I found a lot of depth in his playing, a lot of power. I’m always skeptical about musicians who, like me, go back and forth between classical and jazz. But he is the real deal.”

“Cancion de Amor” is a testament to the Brazilian concept of saudadé, a nostalgic sadness, or warm satisfaction remembering love lost. “Heavy Tango,” another of Galliano’s compositions indebted to Piazzolla, is, by comparison, hardboiled. The lyricism of the violin-duet interplay is profound, and one might guess even such nuances as the scrapped percussion and bold dissonance protect an otherwise vulnerable heart. “Choro das Aguas,” composed by Ivan Lins and Vitor Martins, is transformed by Howes, Galliano, et al into a lilting yet still minorish waltz; it ends with sweet trembling, an affect few serious musicians can pull off so credibly.

“When I wrote ‘Tango Doblado’”, explains Howes, “I wanted to create a song related to Tango that the New York jazz cats could still dig into.” Nelson’s piano improvisation is just what Howes wanted: “Modern, inventive, searching.” The duet “Spleen,” by Galliano, is the lone piece here one might hear in a Parisian café.

Howes’ “Gracias,” returns him to his roots. It conjures an air of timelessness, though tempo is not suspended so much as diffused. It is as if the sun’s light, suddenly flooding in from a window facing the sea, temporarily bleaches the outlines of a room’s furnishings, but as our eyes focus, we see where we are: At home, with a grip firm on the verities of jazz, blues and swing, but our senses refreshed by the shift of visual register.


BOOKING: Please email tiffany@goodmanartists.com to inquire about more information and availability.