Jazz violinist Christian Howes grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where he studied classically from the age of five, performing as a soloist with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra at age 16 and later receiving his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the Ohio State University.
At age twenty, a “cultural intervention” occurred when Christian had the opportunity to perform at regular gospel church services. “Playing in the gospel church services influenced me to change musical directions. The experience was so different from the classical music world; it felt fresh and inspiring. It became my mission to become a violinist with a strong voice in jazz.” Since his shift 21 years ago, he has gained great notoriety from critics and players alike as one of the world’s most respected jazz violinists. Christian was a favorite of the late Les Paul, with whom he worked for 11 years. Says Christian of his mentor, “Les defied categorization in terms of age or genre. His character, approach to life, and musicianship taught me many valuable lessons.” From 2001-2010 Howes become an in-demand violinist on the New York scene, collaborating with a bevy of top shelf jazz artists, including Greg Osby, D.D. Jackson, Frank Vignola, Joel Harrison, Dafnis Prieto, Dave Samuels, Spyro Gyra, and a 4-year chair in Bill Evans’ “Soulgrass” band.
In 2013, he was voted among the top three violinists in JazzTimes’ “2012 Expanded Critics Poll“. In August 2011, Christian was ranked as the #1 “Rising Star” violinist in the Downbeat Critics Poll. He was a nominee for the Jazz Journalists Association’s “Violinist Of The Year” in 2011. In 2012, he received the Residency Partnership from Chamber Music America for his work in outreach with orchestral education programs. He regularly tours throughout Asia, Europe, and the U.S. as a leader of his own groups and a soloist with orchestras. Says All About Jazz, ”as a jazz violinist he has no peer.” The Minneapolis Tribune called Christian “arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz.” According to the Chicago Reader, “Not since Jean Luc Ponty has a violinist ranged from pure classical to fuzz-tone rock to convincing jazz with such authority.”
After releasing a string of independently released CDs as a leader, he signed with Resonance Records in 2008 and released two critically acclaimed CDs. The first, “Heartfelt,” featuring pianist Roger Kellaway, features ballads and lyrical works. “Out of the Blue” released in 2010 features guitarist Robben Ford, and demonstrates a wide range of modern and traditional sensibilities, steeped in the blues. His newest release, “Southern Exposure,” featuring accordianist Richard Galliano, draws from a hispanic sphere of influence. A former Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music, he is also the founder of the Creative Strings Workshop and Festival, which convenes during the first week of July every year in Columbus, Ohio. Says Howes, “The Creative Strings Workshop and Festival offers string players from Columbus and around the world an opportunity to study improvisation, composition, and styles outside the realm of classical music, while bringing the city of Columbus a plethora of talent and musical energy.”
In 2011 Howes launched an online lessons website, the “Creative Strings Academy,” which boasts the largest enrollment worldwide of string players studying jazz and improvised music.
Since 2007, he has also built an innovative online production business, “Christian Howes String Recording,” which provides live string sections and more to music producers worldwide via a remote, collaborative “virtual” orchestra.
Christian is an active blogger and clinician, frequently engaged to speak regarding music education and music business at schools and conferences.