New York City pianist, bassist, and composer Howard Britz grew up in London England. As a band leader he has recorded and toured around the US and Europe as well as releasing three CDs as a bassist/leader. As a pianist/composer he has released an EP in 2012 and has a full CD to be released in May 2013. The latest recording features Eric Halvorson, drums, Bill Moring, bass and special guest, Donny McCaslin on tenor sax, and marks out Britz' emergence as pianist.
As a sideman Howard has performed and recorded with a diverse collection of influential musicians including; Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross, Danilo Perez, Paquito de Rivera, Sam Rivers, Julius Hemphill, Kenny Werner, Uri Caine, Jeff 'Tain Watts, Kenny Wheeler, Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra, New York's Central Baptist Gospel Choir and Edsel Gomez to name a few.
The breadths of his musical influences are apparent in his playing and compositions and are reflected by the artists he has worked alongside and his recordings.
Growing up in England, Howard immersed himself in the London Jazz scene; he played in bands with British pianists, Jonathan Gee and Jason Rebello, saxophonists Tim Garland and Mornington Locket, amongst others. Although he was in demand as a band leader and sideman Britz also played in the onstage band for the hugely successful show "Blues in the Night" which ran for over a year in London's West End.
Arriving in America in 1991 on a scholarship from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Howard quickly established himself as a working musician. One of his first gigs was with Billy Pierce, the ex-Art Blakey tenor man. Transferring to The New England Conservatory of Music, Britz earned a Graduate Diploma whilst keeping up a busy performing schedule. In 1995 he overshot New York and moved to Philadelphia, PA for, as he puts it, "romantic reasons," and found a lively and vibrant jazz scene of which he quickly became a part,"I learned so much playing with the wonderful Philly musicians of the older and younger generations such as Mickey Rocker, Sid Simmons, Uri Caine and John Swana, and the many soulful Jazz/Blues vocalists, it was a great scene".
Howard moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1998 where he now lives with wife, Martha, and Louis, the cocker spaniel . He has worked steadily since then playing many NYC venues and touring in the US and abroad. "This has been a good move for me, although it's tough to be here as a Jazz musician, to be around the some of the best and most creative players in the world is a privilege and a challenge that helps you sort out who you are and what it is that you want to say" In 2005 Howard recieved his BFA Summa Cum Laude in Music and Eduction. In addition to performing, he teaches classes, workshops and private students.
"...a first rate swinger with considerable soloistic skills," JAZZ TIMES Bill Milkoswki
"......make no mistake, this music jumps out of the speakers, commands attention, and is well worth repeated listening" ALL MUSIC GUIDE, Michael G. Nastos
"Howard Britz’s ‘Here I Stand’ raises the bar from both compositional and bass-playing perspectives" EJAZZ NEWS Review by John Stevenson
“Here I Stand” is a burner of an album and one you will play often. With superlative charts that capture nice melodies and harmonies" EJAZZ NEWS, Edward Blanco "
“His knack for getting into the groove whenever possible, and by doing this being the focal point while allowing his musicians to live and breathe in the music, is a testament to what he is as a musician and artist" John Book (The Run-off-Groove)
Howard Britz - Piano
Eric Halvorson - Drums
Bill Moring - Bass
New CD to be released May 2013
'THE TIME IN BETWEEN' EP July 2012
'HERE I STAND' Howard Britz Group Tee Zee 2008
'MADE IN BROOKLY' The Howard Britz Group Tee Zee 2005
'THE FUTURE, THE PAST' 2000 (Bigteeth)
Tour and CD press
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Press for Howard Britz New York to London Express UK Tour 2008 U.S. and U.K. jazz musicians raise...Press for Howard Britz New York to London Express UK Tour 2008
U.S. and U.K. jazz musicians raised the roof at The Y last night, in a gig featuring mainly original compositions by bass-player Howard Britz. the rhythm section were awesome¦.. Britz' beautiful tone on the double-bass shone. "Martha's Song" underlined what a fine composer Britz is, to enthusiastic approval.
Chris Beggs, Leicester Mercury
THE New York to London Express steamed into Arnold last night driven by ex-pat New York bass player Howard Britz and top UK jazz pianist Jonathan Gee. And how these two musicians drove this fabulous transatlantic quintet; the whole group pivoted around Britz' huge bass sound and Gee's amazing wizardry at the piano. The quintets program abounded with originals by Britz, which included intoxicating themes and moving ballads. For the whole evening Howard was a marvellous communicator
Nottingham Evening Post, Trudie Squires
PRESS FOR 'HERE I STAND' TEE ZEE 2008
"...a first rate swinger with considerable soloistic skills," JAZZ TIMES March 2008, Bill Milkoswki
"......make no mistake, this music jumps out of the speakers, commands attention, and is well worth repeated listenings" ALL MUSIC GUIDE, Michael G. Nastos
"Howard Britz's 'Here I Stand' raises the bar from both compositional and bass-playing perspectives" EJAZZ NEWS Review by John Stevenson
'Here I Stand' is a burner of an album and one you will play often. With superlative charts that capture nice melodies and harmonies" EJAZZ NEWS, Edward Blanco
" His knack for getting into the groove whenever possible, and by doing this being the focal point while allowing his musicians to live and breathe in the music, is a testament to what he is as a musician and artist" John Book (The Run-off-Groove)
Press for 'HERE I STAND' 2007 (Tee Zee)
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JAZZ TIMES March 2008 Bill Milkowski Howard Britz HERE I STAND (Tee Zee) http://jazztimes.co...
JAZZ TIMES March 2008 Bill Milkowski
HERE I STAND (Tee Zee) http://jazztimes.com/reviews/cd_reviews/
London-born bassist- composer Britz came to the States in 1991 on a a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He subsequently completed jazz studies at the New England Conservatory of Music before moving to Philadelphia in 1996, and then settled in Brooklyn in 1998. His latest release, a follow-up to his 2005 debut as a leader Made in Brooklyn, again finds him collaboration with some of the best and brightest on New York’s modern-jazz scene. This time out Britz is accompanied by the excellent pianist George Colligan, the well-established drummer Sylvia Cuenca and two lesser-known but equally accomplished talents, trumpeter David Smith and alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin. Together they tackle Britz’s original compositions like the gospel-tinged “Yakkology,” the dynamic 6/8 vehicle “Oceans” and the kinetic up-tempo boppish romp “New York Roast”-with requisite chops, flexibility and killer instincts.
The settle into Britz’s melancholy ode “Goodbye (for Dad)” with reverence and sensitivity, then delve in to an real-deal second line feel on “Lucky Friday the 13th” which morphs back and forth between N’awlins funk and New York swing. Along the way, the leader distinguishes himself as a first-rate swinger with considerable soloistic skills, which becomes especially apparent on the down-home medium groover “Brown & Sizzle,” Britz’s tribute to his bass idol, Ray Brown. The composer also explores more sharply intelligent, modernistic fare on the angular modal romp “Scatterbug” and the buoyant 7/4 vehicle “Martha’s Song” written for his wife.
All Music Review by Michael G. Nastos
Stand-up acoustic bassist Howard Britz knows his modern jazz, how to attractively construct it, and pick musicians that can execute his vision. Britz himself is a facile player, whose persona is rooted in the modern mainstream, solid swing and deep blue inventions. What is most impressive about Britz are his compositions, brimming with good ideas, bright melodicism and witty charts that are interesting to both his band mates and the astute listener. Those who nit-pick might deem this material derivative, and certainly comparisons can be made to classic hard and neo-bop sounds. But make no mistake, this music jumps out of the speakers, commands attention, and is well worth repeated listenings. The excellent hot track "New York Roast" convincingly reflects the teamwork and good feelings always extant with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, as does "Scatterbug," a Blakey signature popping staccato-infused chart that is complicated without being overly complex. Alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin, a rising star following the pathway of Kenny Garrett, shines brightly, as does the always outstanding pianist George Colligan. In a post Blakey/Wynton Marsalis stance, "Lucky Friday The 13th" starts with a free based intro, moves to a New Orleans shuffle from drummer Sylvia Cuenca, then swings in a hip, contemporary manner. The sad, pensive sound of Tom Harrell is evoked by trumpeter David Smith during "Goodbye, For Dad," a 7/8 modern neo/post-bop groove informs "Martha's Song," fro Britz's wife, and a tribute to hero bassist Ray Brown is another groover melded to the blues with the leader upfront during "Brown & Sizzle." And these are the tunes that follow the very fine opening tracks, the punchy and quirky, fun and funky "Yaakology," and the peppy kinetic 6/8 waltz-like "Oceans," very modern New York City, Seventh Avenue South. '80s Brecker Brothers style neo-bop. This ultra-solid CD from Britz, his third effort and clearly his best, is a sleeper in the general scheme, and definitely a keeper in your collection should you come across it, which you are advised to search for and obtain.
EJazz News Review by John Stevenson,
Arguably one the more robust releases for 2008, Howard Britz’s ‘Here I Stand’ raises the bar from both compositional and bass-playing perspectives.
Bucking the trend towards near-slavish dependence on jazz standards, Britz ably demonstrates that he is conversant with tradition. What’s more, he makes his independent mark as a writer of catchy, and sometimes complex melodic pieces.
On the bright opening number, “Yaakology”, penned for Israeli drummer Yaaki Levi, Les-McCann-like gospel inflections playfully collide with Latin strains, artfully assisted by the remarkable ensemble and solo work of drummer Sylvia Cuenca and pianist George Colligan. Cuenca’s time-keeping is in notable lock-step with the gently persuasive lope of Britz’s plucked notes; a stance that becomes even more evident on the alternating second-line-shuffle/hard-bopping swing of “Lucky Friday the 13th”.
Which brings me to the horns on the CD. Alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin and trumpeter David Smith were surely brought on for their considerably combustible instrumental talents. Listeners can bear ear-witness to their burning blowing abilities on the hairpin changes to “New York Roast”.
But ‘Here I Stand’ essentially expresses the innate musicality of London-born, US-resident Britz. He has that special ability to channel aspects of Ray Brown and Scott La Faro (to mention a few of his influences) without being wholly imitative of either. A great example of this is on “Brown & Sizzle”, putting on show Britz’s elegant, dependable, rhythmic gait. It closely mirrors Ray Brown’s instrumental sophistication, recalling memories of the good old Oscar Peterson days. George Colligan’s bluesy flourishes also pleasantly tickle the ear.
“Goodbye (for Dad)”, written in memory of Britz’s recently departed father, is the mellowest of the eight original tunes on the CD. I would heartily agree with Howard that “it has resolve and peace in it as well as sadness”.
The cascading, downward-descending chords on the opening bars of “Oceans” blend in with Smith and Benjamin’s unison horn lines, Colligan’s intense but always inspiring solo – not to mention Britz’s probing pizzicato technique and Cuenca’s creative cross-sticking and polyrhythmic drumming. “Scatterbug” exemplifies Britz’s complex writing skills, a harmonic journey full of tight corners, while the 7/4 tune “Martha’s Song”, triumphantly bookends a fine library of pieces.
At a time when a younger generation of jazzmen can oftentimes sound jaded with clichéd bop and post-bop affinities, Howard Britz invests a familiar jazz tradition with new and inspiring guises.
EJAZZ NEWS Posted by: editoron Thursday, January 03, 2008 - 10:11 AM
Reviews By: Edward Blanco
Not content with the standard contemporary bebop jazz he is accustomed to playing, bassist Howard Britz decided to make a statement with this new release as he writes in the liner notes “this is how I feel about music now, whatever trends may come and go,
‘Here I stand.’ By which he meant that this recording attempts to stake out accessibly melodic new grooves that connect with the roots of jazz. Don’t know if he succeeds in conveying this message with the music but I do know where the music here stands, and that is frankly, quite good, indeed very good.
Call it what you like, aggressive bebop, post bop or sophisticated mainstream, this is just, as he also writes, “honest to goodness real jazz” with flavor. Britz provides eight exceptional charts that challenge the listener with a tinge of gospel diced with an element of Latin style and blending a hard-driving swing with a touch of hard bop to stretch the range and melodies of this thing we call jazz.
Britz plays with an exciting quintet that lay down several sturdy solo shots from all sides.
The band includes George Colligan (piano), Sylvia Cuenca (drums), Casey Benjamin (alto sax) and David Smith (trumpet/flugelhorn).
Every track on this CD presents a different approach to the music yet are all entertaining and new. My personal favorites here include the lively “Oceans,” the sizzling “Brown & Sizzle,” and the swinging finale of “Martha’s Song.” Other notable mentions include the hard-driving “New York Roast” and the soft ballad of “Goodbye, for Dad” written in honor of Britz’s father who passed in 2005, includes an extended solo performance from Britz.
Containing excellent solos from every member of the band with tremendous base line work from the leader, “Here I Stand” is a burner of an album and one you will play often.
With superlative charts that capture nice melodies and harmonies, this is one jazz album that will please the discerning jazz aficionado.
Label: TEE ZEE Records
Artist Web: www.howardbritz.com
CD Review: http://therunoffgroove.blogspot.com/2008/01/run-off-groove-185_09.html
Howard Britz's calls his music contemporary acoustic jazz, and at a time when some forms are jazz are watered down to the point of being a Fruit Stripe gum soda, this definitely means something. His statement, or I should say eight statements are made on Here I Stand (Tee Zee), and the declaration: jazz in its truest form while looking towards the music's future.
Britz plays the stand up bass, and like many of his contemporaries before him, he writes and arranges his music, as it should be. His knack for getting into the groove whenever possible, and by doing this being the focal point while allowing his musicians to live and breathe in the music, is a testament to what he is as a musician and artist. The music on here has the feel of jazz from the 50's and 60's, so those who may like their bebop and hard bop traditional will find all of that here. But within these tracks one is able to hear a few ECM influences and the occasional push into something soulful and funky, although it's not as upfront as one might thing. "Oceans", like its name, carries the listener on for a ride that goes from smoothed out to a bit of jazzy commotion, but with everyone on the boat (Sylvia Cuenca on drums, Casey Benjamin on alto sax, David Smith on trumpet and flugelhorn, and George Colligan on piano) navigating as a team, they assist/compliment each other quite well and make sure the song gets to its destination in one piece, without anyone jumping on a semi-secure showboat.
While everyone is on equal terms here, Britz allows himself to shine on his own with the opening bass riff of "Martha's Song", in honor of his wife. Taken in 7/4, Britz sets the listener up for the dynamics that are to come, and throughout the song one can tell Britz is aware of being the anchor, while making sure everyone joins in to bring the album home. The horn section of Benjamin and Smith sound as sharp and polished as any good horn section should, and Colligan's piano work has the kind of style that sounds too good to be true, or as people might say in Hawai'i, "da bugga is mean!" Britz and Cuenca are a team not to be messed with, their union is tight and there are moments where it feels like they are two sides of the same musical brain, quite remarkable. Here I Stand is an outstanding album, and Britz is one of many jazz musicians today who are continuting to break down the time barriers, which is another way of saying that with jazz, there should be no limits.
(Here I Stand will be released nationally on March 1st, but can be purchased through CDBaby.)
CD Review: IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION
here's what I've got written up for issue #80 for "HERE I STAND" from Howard Britz:
Howard Britz - HERE I STAND: It was interesting to me that I first spotted Howard's fantastic bass playing on one of my favorite "home artist" sites, www.indieonestop.com/jamroom then 2 days later received it from promoter Jim Eigo www.jazzpromoservices.com . Jim only promotes those artists that are high quality ripe with talent. Well, after listening through the first 2 tracks, it was abundantly clear that Mr. Britz is at the top of the jazz heap. All original compositions lend to the atmosphere of high energy, as Howard's double bass is joined by drums from Sylvia Cuenca, David Smith's trumpet flugelhorn, alto sax from Casey Benjamin piano from George Colligan. My favorite track on the album is cut #7, "Scatterbug" - can't quite put my finger on it, but it somehow takes me back to my earliest listens to jazz in the dark jazz cellars in Germany - I'm pretty sure it's Smith's horn work that makes it feel that way - totally tight tune with heavy energy that involves!
the listener from the opening bar. This is one of the best albums I've heard in 2008, I give it my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. Get more information at www.howardbritz.com Rotcod Zzaj AKA Dick Metcalf
Made in Brooklyn
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The ground covered on Made in Brooklyn is largely the post bop mainstream, and the fact that composi...The ground covered on Made in Brooklyn is largely the post bop mainstream, and the fact that compositions by both Coltrane and Ellington are covered in this collection might offer a clear idea of what is on offer. What might not be so obvious, however, is that pieces of Ellingtonia can be put across with what can only be described as Monkian intervals, as on “Mood Indigo.” The fact that a Britz original such as “Beauty From Within” holds its own in face of such exalted company suggests that the leader is much more than a bass player, the dependability of whom is never in question.
By a similar token, this disc is tribute also to the fact that it's never a bad idea for musicians to get together. Look for abundant evidence in the work of the central quartet of Britz, Jacques Schwarz-Bart (tenor), Helio Alves (piano), and Terreon Gulley (drums), who seem to know each other's musical personalities inside out. This again works to the listener's advantage, as does the lineup for Kenny Garrett's “Computergy,” where Alves drops out to be replaced by Casey Benjamin's potent alto sax.
Nic Jones (All About Jazz)
To see full review go to: http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=20052
Pianist Kenny Werner Comments
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Howard Britz is a great bass player, composer and communicator. He has that unique ability to explai...Howard Britz is a great bass player, composer and communicator. He has that unique ability to explain the things he does. Most musicians who can play that well are not often great teachers and great teachers aren’t often battle-tested, so to speak. Howard is both.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.