Christian Howes

Ten Yard

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Violinist Christian Howes had a promising career interrupted when he was convicted of selling drugs. He was greatly affected by spending a few years in prison; the experience made him determined to have a career playing jazz and added intensity to his playing. On his second CD, Howes shows that, even at this relatively early stage, he is one of the best jazz violinists around. Most of the music (all ten songs other than "Here's That Rainy Day" are his originals) are primarily straight-ahead and cooking. There are a couple of humorous comedy numbers ("Laughing Tango" and "Laughing Song") which satirize classical music and tangos, but otherwise the music is no-nonsense modern hard bop, leavened with a couple of wistful ballads (including the haunting title cut). Assisted by either pianist Bobby Floyd or Daniel Kelly on piano, electric bassist Jeff Ciampa, and drummer Tony McClung, Howes displays plenty of passion in his playing -- sometimes hinting at early Jean-Luc Ponty -- and a wide expressive range, making one realize that he could probably excel at playing avant-garde jazz too if he had the desire. Overall, this is a strong effort by a violinist who came back from the depths of despair to launch a potentially significant career.

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