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DjangoSphere returns to Bird & Beckett!
Howard Alden, a formidable guitarist with an international reputation, is in theÂ midst of a second West Coast tour with violinist Kit Eakle,Â well known as an historian of the violin in jazz, in Kit’s project called DjangoSphere — exploring the music of Django Reinhardt and Thelonious Sphere Monk.
Their DjangoSphere duo outing at Bird & Beckett two Februaries ago packed the house and brought thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
In Jazz Times Magazine, writer Owen Cordie said Howard Alden “may be the best of his generation.” George Kanzler of the Newark Star Ledger proclaimed that he’s “the most impressive and creative member of a new generation of jazz guitarists.” Chip Deffaa of the New York Post observed early in Alden’s career that he’s “…one of the very finest young guitarists working today.” And the London Observer had this to say, “If there is such a thing as a complete jazz guitarist, then Alden is it.”
Born in Newport Beach, California, in 1958, Alden began playing at age ten, inspired by guitarists Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and George Van Eps, and soon was working professionally around Los Angeles. In 1979, Alden went east for a summer job in Atlantic City with vibes player Red Norvo, and Alden continued to perform with Norvo frequently for several years. Alden moved to New York City in 1982, and his skills were quickly recognized and sought out for appearances and recordings with such artists as Ruby Braff, Joe Williams, Warren VachÃ©, Woody Herman, Benny Carter, Flip Phillips, Mel Powell, Bud Freeman, Kenny Davern, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and George Van Eps, as well as notable contemporaries Scott Hamilton and Ken Peplowski. His public profile grew in 1999, when he played all the guitar solos for Oscar-nominated Sean Penn’s character in Woody Allen’s “Sweet and Lowdown” and coached Penn in his guitar work as he played a virtuosic if self-destructive musician obsessed with the talent of French/Romani guitarist Django Reinhardt.
As for Eakle, whose brainchild this project is, jazz writer Andrew Gilbert noted that he “delivers on DjangoSphere… a rhythmically dexterous rollercoaster ride… (The project) artfully melds the sounds of two irreducibly brilliant artists.”
Kit Eakle is known as one of the most original improvising violinists on the West Coast. He’s been a member of the Hot Club of Marin, the rock-a-billy band The Sons of Emperor Norton, the Jerry Garcia Band guitarist Peter Harris’s Obscura, his own FiddleJazz (which performs “A Brief History of Jazz Violin,” a survey of the role of the violin in jazz from its beginnings to the present) and The Eakle Brothers, with his flute playing brother, Matt Eakle, a regular member of the David Grisman Quintet. Eakle has also shared the stage with Dan Hicks, MartÃn Fierro, Joe Craven, Mads Tolling, David LaFlame and Paul Mehling.
Alden notes, â€œthe chance to play this music in a duo format is very special to me and will create an entirely different vibe from the quartet shows. I love the duo format, it creates an intimate and unique atmosphere with every different personality, whether with another guitarist or one horn like my meetings with Warren VachÃ©, Anat Cohen, Ken Peplowski and others over the years.â€
Many Bird & Beckett patrons will fondly remember Alden’s duo date with VachÃ© three Januaries ago in 2017, as well as several other duo and solo appearances over the past five years.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.
Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site