DRUM LORE features Owen Howard (drums, arrangements), John O'Gallagher (alto sax), Andy Middleton (tenor sax-3, 8, 10 & soprano sax-1, 4, 7), Adam Kolker (tenor sax-3, 4, 6, soprano sax-9, bass clarinet-5, 7, 11), Alan Ferber (trombone-2, 6, 9, 11), Frank Carlberg (piano), Johannes Weidenmueller (bass)
"Owen Howard has put together, from his perspective seat, a fantastic collection of creatively executed compositions by the most influential drummers of our time. Some of the hippest bandleaders and composers in jazz, have come from the drum chair. With Drum Lore, Owen Howard makes a beautiful and honest statement with his ensemble. It captivates you throughout and feels great!!! Bravo . . ." - Joe Lovano
Owen Howard, originally from Edmonton, Canada, has performed and recorded with the likes of Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner, Tom Harrell, Kenny Wheeler, John Abercrombie, Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Dave Holland, Eddie Henderson, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton and many others. He has appeared on over forty recordings to date, including five under his own name, and has toured extensively throughout Europe, the United States and Canada. He is clearly an artist successfully following in the footsteps of legendary drummers/bandleaders such as Tony Williams, Peter Erskine, Billy Hart, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motian, Al Foster, Shelly Manne and others, and now with the release of his sixth CD as a leader, Drum Lore (BJURecords), Owen Howard shines a spotlight on the composing talents of these exalted players.
The birth of Drum Lore took place at a summer jazz workshop where Howard was one of the several "artists-in-residence". The drummer explains further, "As we were getting ready for a discourse on the finer points of our various approaches to composition, one of the participants said to me. 'Owen, why are you here? You're a drummer, and this is a composition class? Well, how does one answer a comment like that? Rather than being offended, I took it upon myself to dispel this myth that drummers can't, or don't, compose." The brilliant result is Drum Lore, a recording of great stylistic diversity, dedicated to exploring compositions exclusively by many of the revered drummers of our time. As Joe Lovano has stated, "some of the hippest bandleaders and composers in jazz, have come from the drum chair"; so many that Howard has at least several more CDs worth of music composed by drummers that he'd like to record, so be on the lookout for the possibility of "Drum Lore, Vol. 2".
Drum Lore opens with the joyously swinging "Bulgaria" (Peter Erskine), with the melody stated by the tart, attention-grabbing sound of soprano and alto saxophones, provided by Andy Middleton and John O'Gallagher respectively, with Howard and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller burning underneath (as they do throughout the session). Few drummers can cover Tony Williams without falling just short in terms of intensity and originality, but Howard instantly renders Williams' "Arboretum" (from the album Foreign Intrigue") as a beautifully played tribute to the late, great master. Next up is the Billy Hart tune "Duchess", "from one of my favorite recordings of Billy's, Oshumare. Billy's tunes have a very strong and personal melodic quality to them, I find myself humming them often," explains Howard. One can always overhear musicians discussing the qualities of Hart's drumming, so it is especially important for people to realize what a gifted composer he is as well; Drum Lore exists to create that awareness of Hart and his colleagues, past and present, including Howard himself. Feeling that it would have been hypocritical to not include one of his own compositions, the album features "Roundabout", which he composed after listening to Miles Davis' "Circle In The Round". Other highlights on the recording include the emotive, haunting, but pretty Paul Motian tune, "It Should've Happened A Long Time Ago", of which Howard commented, "I'm quite fond of our rendition, I think we capture the spirit of the tune"; "Togo" by master drummer Ed Blackwell, which Howard arranges to incorporate three distinct time feels that Blackwell transitions to throughout his solo; and the first recorded composition from drummer/bandleader Shelly Manne, "Flip", from the album The Three and The Two. Drum Lore also features compositions by Chick Webb, Al Foster, Denzil Best and Jack DeJohnette.
Throughout Drum Lore Owen Howard's drumming reveals a distinctive maturity and depth. As Thomas Conrad stated in DownBeat Magazine, "As a percussionist, Howard does not 'keep time' but feeds his band detailed ideas about shifting energy." In other words he compels his bandmates to truly interact throughout each tune, melody and solos. All About Jazz.com stated (about Howard's Days Before and After) that "The real meat of the music is in the collective interplay of the ensemble, the responses of one musician to what another has just done, all in real time . . . You're not going to find a more fascinating demonstration of unique musical communication." If this weren't enough, with an enviable sense of dynamics, creativity and touch, Owen Howard pulls from his drums and cymbals the most pleasing sounds and feelings one could imagine generating from wood, plastic and metal.
More on Owen Howard
Drummer/Composer Owen Howard (b. June 13, 1965) began studying drums at the age of 15. As a young up and coming drummer in Edmonton, Howard had many opportunities to perform with many fine Canadian and international artists passing through town. In 1988 he received a study grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, which enabled him to move to New York to complete his BFA in Jazz from The New School. It was then that the drummer began to make his mark on the New York Scene. For the past eighteen years Howard has enjoyed much success leading his own bands. He currently has five recordings to his credit. Pentagon and Sojourn, on the Koch Jazz label, Days Before and After (co-lead with Andrew Rathbun on Fresh Sound New Talent), Time Cycles (Fresh Sound New Talent), and now, Drum Lore (BJURecords). In addition to his role as a leader, Owen Howard is an in demand sideman for many of the jazz's name players. Howard also has extensive teaching experience to his credit. He has been a faculty member at The Banff Centre International Workshop and has held guest professorships at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and The University of Fine Arts in Berlin, Germany. He has conducted workshops and clinics in the United States, Europe and Canada. Owen Howard currently lives with his wife Kelly and son Cooper in Brooklyn, New York.