by Christian Howes


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Amplified violinist Christian Howes has been knocking on the door of superstardom since his much publicized legal and personal troubles, which are by now well behind him. While he should be recognized for his immense talent, his recordings as a leader have been spotty in terms of repertoire. Heartfelt is certainly different for Howes, as he joins forces with pianist Roger Kellaway in an at times romantically oriented effort that displays a split between small-ensemble tracks and tracks with a string complement. Happily, it is not all stringy, as the combo tunes have more of an energized, mainstream jazz feel. Howes works well as a lead voice, and while the strings are tastefully done, they are a bit syrupy and tend to suffocate the talents of the principals. Bassist Bob Magnusson, one of the all-time secret weapons of jazz, ultimately enhances this session. He jumps right into the fray on the Bill Evans obscurity "Walkin' Up," the most effectively interactive piece with brief violin and drums or bass workouts inserted. Stroking the rhythm of "Bernie's Tune," the bassist fires up Howes on this well-worn but welcome standard. A brisk waltz, Kellaway's original "Invasion of the Forest" sports counterintuitive rhythms in a framework. As much as "Alone Together" has been played to death, the quartet invigorates it with an inventive, extrapolated melody. Possibly the most delightful track is a violin/piano duet of the Benny Goodman late-'30s chestnut "Opus Half," with a bouncy stride piano riff from Kellaway that in an unexpected way updates this old-school tune. The cuts with strings are nice enough: "The Wind" combines symphonic sounds with light Brazilian beats; "That's All It Was" is a cavalier, soft, warm, and painfully brief fling written by Eliane Elias; while "Cinema Paradiso," "The Peacocks," and "Early Autumn" are fairly typical ballads. Howes and Octave Geiger (a contractual pseudonym?) overdub harmonically during "Early Autumn" for an interesting and alluring effect. For many listeners, this will be a hit-and-miss effort, elevated by the sheer talent of the oftentimes amazing Howes, but yielding mixed results because of the on-and-off inconsistency from track to track. It's good, sometimes excellent, but not essential or ultimate.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/09/2008
Label: Resonance Records
UPC: 0724101739026
catalogNumber: 1006
Rank: 182964

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Christian Howes   Primary Artist,Strings,Violin,Viola
Roger Kellaway   Piano
George Klabin   Recorder
Bob Magnusson   Bass
Andreas Öberg   Guitar
Nathan Wood   Drums
Pierre Paul   Recorder
Octave Geiger   Viola

Technical Credits

Bill Evans   Composer
Russ Freeman   Composer
Benny Goodman   Composer
Roger Kellaway   Arranger,Composer
Jimmy Rowles   Composer
Ralph Burns   Composer
Eliane Elias   Composer
Lee Hildebrand   Liner Notes
George Klabin   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Ennio Morricone   Composer
Johnny Mercer   Composer
Bernard Miller   Composer
Herman   Composer
Kuno Schmid   Arranger
Pierre Paul   Engineer
Schwartz   Composer
Dietz   Composer

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