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Howard Alden (born October 17, 1958) is an American jazz guitarist born in Newport Beach, California. Alden has recorded many albums for Concord Records, including four with seven-string guitar innovator George Van Eps.

Howard Alden
Howard Alden.jpg
Alden performing in 2007
Background information
Birth nameHoward Vincent Alden
Born (1958-10-17) October 17, 1958 (age 60)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, swing
InstrumentsSeven-string guitar, tenor banjo
Years active1973–present
LabelsConcord, Nagel-Heyer, Arbors
Associated actsGeorge Van Eps, Dan Barrett, Ken Peplowski


Early lifeEdit

Howard Vincent Alden was born in Newport Beach, California on October 17, 1958.[1][2] He grew up in Huntington Beach, playing piano, harmonica, the four-string tenor guitar, and then four-string banjo at age ten.[1] After hearing recordings of Barney Kessel, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt and other jazz guitar greats, he got a six-string guitar and started teaching himself to play. As a teenager he played both instruments at venues in the Los Angeles area.[3] He studied guitar with Jimmy Wyble when he was 16. In 1977–78 he studied jazz guitar at the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT) in Hollywood with Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, and Howard Roberts.[1] At GIT he assisted Roberts in organizing and preparing curriculum materials. Alden then conducted some of his own classes at GIT.[4]

Musical careerEdit

Alden made his first trip to the east coast in the summer of 1979, playing in a trio led by vibraphonist Red Norvo for three months at Resorts International in Atlantic City.

He moved to New York City in 1982 to play an extended engagement at the Café Carlyle with jazz pianist/songwriter Joe Bushkin. Soon afterwards, he was discovered by Joe Williams and Woody Herman. In 1983 he was already collaborating with Dick Hyman, when he appeared with him and a host of other musicians at Eubie Blake's one-hundredth birthday concert.[5]

Alden formed the Alden-Barrett Quintet in 1985 with Dan Barrett, which played in the swing idiom, as he has done for most of his career. He also began partnerships with Ruby Braff, Kenny Davern and Jack Lesberg. He joined George Van Eps, innovator of the seven-string guitar, on tour and recorded albums with him, switching to the seven-string himself in 1992.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Alden lives in Manhattan.[6] On January 10, 2015 he married Diane Carmen Garcia in San Marino, California.

Sweet and LowdownEdit

Alden recorded the guitar performances for Sean Penn's character Emmet Ray in Woody Allen's 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, and taught Penn how to mime the performances for the film. The score also featured Bucky Pizzarelli on rhythm guitar and arrangements by pianist Dick Hyman.[7]


  • Best Emerging Guitar Talent, JazzTimes (1990)
  • Talent Deserving Wider Recognition, Down Beat (1992, 1993, 1995, 1996)
  • Guitar Player of the Year, American Guitar Museum (2003)
  • Top 75 Guitarists, Down Beat (2008)


As leaderEdit

Year Album Co-leader Label
1987 Swinging into Prominence Famous Door
1987 Swing Street Concord
1988 No Amps Allowed Jack Lesberg Chiaroscuro
1989 Plays the Music of Harry Reser Dick Hyman Stomp Off
1989 The Howard Alden Trio Plus Special Guests Ken Peplowski & Warren Vaché Concord
1989 The ABQ Salutes Buck Clayton Dan Barrett Concord
1990 Snowy Morning Blues Concord
1991 13 Strings George Van Eps Concord
1991 Misterioso Concord
1992 Hand-Crafted Swing Van Eps Concord
1993 A Good Likeness Concord
1993 Seven & Seven Van Eps Concord
1994 Your Story: The Music of Bill Evans Concord
1995 Encore! Live at Centre Concord Ken Peplowski Concord
1995 Concord Jazz Guitar Collective Jimmy Bruno, Frank Vignola Concord
1995 Keepin' Time Van Eps Concord
1996 Take Your Pick Concord
1998 Full Circle Jimmy Bruno Concord
2001 Love Terrie Richards Nagel-Heyer
2002 My Shining Hour Concord
2003 In a Mellow Tone Bucky Pizzarelli Concord
2004 Live in '95 Dan Barrett Concord
2007 Pow-Wow Ken Peplowski Arbors
2010 All I Ask Is Love Bob Greene, Bobby Gordon GHB
2010 I Remember Django Arbors
2011 A Splendid Trio Scott Hamilton, Frank Tate Arbors
2013 Heavy Artillery Andy Brown Delmark
2014 Guitar K2B2


As sidemanEdit

With Ruby Braff

  • Me, Myself and I (Concord, 1989)
  • Bravura Eloquence (Concord, 1990)
  • New England Songhounds Vol. 1 (Concord, 1991)
  • New England Songhounds Vol. 2 (Concord, 1992)
  • Cornet Chop Suey (Concord, 1994)
  • As Time Goes By (Candid, 1997)
  • Braff Plays Wimbeldon: The First Set (Zephyr, 1997)
  • Braff Plays Wimbeldon: The Second Set (Zephyr, 1998)
  • Born to Play (Arbors, 1999)
  • In Concert at Beacon Jazz Festival 1991 (2000)
  • The Cape Codfather (Arbors, 2000)
  • Music for the Still of the Night (Arbors, 2001)
  • Watch What Happens (Arbors, 2002)
  • Variety Is the Spice of Life (Arbors, 2002)
  • Our Love Is Here to Stay (Arbors, 2010)[8][9]

With Kenny Davern

With Scott Hamilton

  • Race Point (Concord, 1992)
  • Groovin' High (Concord, 1992)[8][9]

With Susannah McCorkle

  • I'll Take Romance (Concord, 1992)
  • From Bessie to Brazil (Concord, 1993)
  • Easy to Love (Concord, 1995)
  • Someone to Watch Over Me (Concord, 1998)[8][9]

With Ken Peplowski

  • Sonny Side (Concord, 1989)
  • Illuminations (Concord, 1991)
  • Concord Duo Series Vol. 3 (Concord, 1993)
  • Steppin' with Peps (Concord, 1993)
  • Live at Ambassador Auditorium (Concord, 1994)
  • It's a Lonesome Old Town (Concord, 1995)
  • Grenadilla (Concord, 1998)[8][9]

With Flip Phillips

  • A Real Swinger (Concord, 1988)
  • Try a Little Tenderness (Chiaroscuro, 1992)
  • John & Joe Revisited (Chiaroscuro, 1998)
  • Swing Is the Thing (Verve, 2000)[8][9]

With Bobby Short

  • You're the Top (Telarc, 1999)
  • How's Your Romance (Telarc, 1999)
  • Piano (2001)[8][9]

With Warren Vache

  • Easy Going (Concord, 1987)
  • Mrs. Vache's Boys (Nagel-Heyer, 1993)
  • Talk to Me Baby (Muse, 1995)
  • Remember (Nagel-Heyer, 2007)[8][9]

With others


  1. ^ a b c d Kennedy, Gary (2002). Kernfeld, Barry, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 26. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
  2. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott (2000). Swing: Third Ear—The Essential Listening Companion. Backbeat Books. p. 388. ISBN 0-87930-600-9.
  4. ^ "Howard Alden @ Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz NPR". Retrieved 2007-06-04.
  5. ^ Levin, Floyd (2002). Classic Jazz: A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians. University of California Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-520-23463-4.
  6. ^ "Benedetto Guitars profile". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  7. ^ Bailey, Peter J. (2003). The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen. University Press of Kentucky. p. 310. ISBN 0-8242-0493-X.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Recordings-List of Selected". Howard Alden. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Howard Alden | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 March 2018.

External linksEdit