Howard Alden is to the guitar what Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, Dan Barrett, and Ken Peplowski are to the tenor, trumpet, trombone, and clarinet. Part of a youthful swing movement that gained momentum in the 1980s, Alden plays the earlier pre-bop styles quite effectively but also has the ability to perform the music of Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans, and he is equally talented on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and his rarely played banjo. Alden began playing guitar at age ten and he counts his early influences as guitarists Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, and George Van Eps in addition to Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie. He began gigging professionally in Los Angeles as a teenager and became good friends with trombonist Dan Barrett. In 1979 Alden played with vibraphonist Red Norvo and, in 1982, followed Barrett to New York where he quickly became established as a major guitarist. He performed and recorded with the who's who of mainstream jazz (including Joe Bushkin, Ruby Braff, Joe Williams, Woody Herman, Benny Carter, Flip Phillips, Bud Freeman, Clark Terry, and Dizzy Gillespie) and by the mid-'80s was one of the most popular artists on the Concord label. A very consistent and inventive musician, Alden has since been in great demand for recording sessions, jazz parties, and festivals. His many recordings (which include a quintet co-led with Barrett, sessions on the seven-string guitar with his idol George Van Eps, and duets with Peplowski) are all enjoyable and perfect examples of modern swing.
- by Scott Yanow
All Music Group