b. 4 August 1969, London, England. Howe heard music from an early age (his father, guitarist Steve Howe, played with rock band Yes) and he took up the drums at the age of 10, taking lessons with another Yes member Bill Bruford, and Bob Armstrong. Although inclined towards rock, listening to Miles Davis and John Coltrane and seeing and hearing Buddy Rich at Ronnie Scott’s club at the age of 13 resulted in a change of direction and created a desire to become a professional jazz drummer. During his teens, Howe gigged at London clubs, helping run sessions at Soho’s The Shack in the early 90s. In the late 80s and early 90s, he built a name not only in London’s jazz circles but also as an in-demand session musician. In the late 90s he became a member of Ian Dury And The Blockheads, which was where he met Gilad Atzmon, a musician with whom he formed an ongoing musical relationship. Howe has played regularly in rock-influenced bands and has performed and sometimes recorded with his father’s band, Remedy. His first jazz group appearance was with Philip Bent’s quintet in 1990. Howe has appeared on several film soundtrack albums, including Bridget Jones’s Diary and I Am Sam (both 2001).
Howe’s jazz drumming influences include Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Philly Joe Jones and Roy Haynes and for his own quintet debut he demonstrated vividly that this is where his musical heart lies. Playing in a manner reminiscent of hard bop groups of the late 50s and 60s, Howe’s band puts a new shine on the style. The other members of the band have included trumpeter Quentin Collins, alto saxophonist Brian Edwards, pianists Frank Harrison and Andrew McCormack, and bass players Andy Crowdy, Aidan O’Donnell and Larry Bartley. On his 2002 debut The Way I Hear It, Howe brought in several guest musicians including tenor saxophonist Ben Castle as well as three guitarists: his father, Luiz De Almeida and John Etheridge. Among many other musicians from jazz, rock and pop with whom Howe has worked and sometimes recorded are Lillian Boutté, Ray Gelato, Tom Jones, Chaka Khan, Jane Monheit, Jim Mullen, Courtney Pine, Ian Shaw and Robbie Williams. A driving yet thoughtful and listening drummer, Howe has quickly placed a distinctive stamp on the British jazz scene.