He was born in 1943 in New Orleans, the heartland of Jazz. Growing up in a city vibrating with Gospel and Dixieland he lived music in all its forms and played music from childhood in his church. Noah first learned trumpet and later switching to alto, tenor and soprano saxophone. Noah first studied with Dewey Johnson in Los Angeles and later on in San Francisco. When he moved to New York he started playing with Sun Ra. As an innovator influenced by John Coltrane and Albert Ayler he became a driver of the early Free Jazz movement and quickly developed into one of the world’s most celebrated alt saxophonists.
He recorded his first LP Noah Howard Quartet as a leader in 1965 and his second LP Noah Howard at Judson Hall in 1966 both for the groundbreaking ESP Records label. In 1969 he appeared on Frank Wright’s album One For John and on Black Gipsy with Archie Shepp. With his third record as leader, internationally acclaimed Black Ark, together with Arthur Doyle, Noah entered the Jazz hall of fame as one of the most brilliant and innovative Free Jazz musicians.
In 1971 he created his own record label AltSax and published most of his music under that label. In the same year he recorded Patterns in the Netherlands with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. Disenchanted by the lack of appreciation for musical avant-garde in the USA, Noah moved to Paris in 1972, lived in Nairobi in 1982 and finally moved to Brussels late 1982, where he had a studio and ran a jazz club. He recorded steadily through the 1970s and 1980s, exploring funk and world music in the latter decade and recording for AltSax. In the 1990s Noah returned to his free jazz origins, releasing on Cadence Jazz among others, and experienced a resurgence in critical acclaim for example for Dreamtime (2002).
Noah recorded 35 records, among them Desert Harmony, featuring Omar al Faqir (2007), which he described as “a representation of the magnificent brotherhood of musicians in our world”.
Noah Howard’s joy of life and insatiable curiosity led him to an extensive journey around the world. He gave concerts and worked with poets, visual artists, composers and musicians in places as diverse as India, the Arab world, Africa and Europe. This characteristic open-mindedness let Noah constantly re-innovate his style by embracing the cornucopia of the world’s cultures, people and music.
The last product of this existential experience was truly diverse Voyage (2010). Reflecting Noah’s personality it creates a unique sound universe – Voyage Jazz, a beautiful interplay of World Music and Free Jazz, driven by a never-ending passion for innovation and love for the world’s music and its people.
Noah Howard unexpectedly passed away September 3rd, 2010 while vacationing in Southern France. Just one day before Noah had finished the first draft of his autobiography which will be published soon.