Career in Chicago
After attending Northwestern for 2 years, Howard moved back to New York where he played piano in an off - Broadway musical written by New York Times theater critic Eric Bentley. He also started playing saxophone, guitar, mandolin, flute, and percussion. He moved back to Chicago 2 years later, began a lifelong study of World Music, and started his professional musical career playing solo concerts as well as with many different groups. He became music director and chief composer for the Latin/Jazz group Chévere de Chicago, co-founded The Balkan Rhythm Band (Bulgarian and Macedonian music), toured and recorded with famed singer/songwriters Steve Goodman, John Prine, and Bonnie Koloc, led his own Jazz quintet, played with many of Chicago’s top Jazz artists, and had a thriving career as a studio musician, playing music for over 1,000 TV and Radio commercials. He also performed with Latin Jazz great Tito Puente, which led to him playing piano and harmonica for several years with Cuban sax and clarinet master Paquito D’Rivera.
In 1986, Howard won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Music for a Play, composing and performing the music for Bertolt Brecht’s “Puntila and His Hired Man”, starring William Peterson, Amy Morton, and Dennis Arndt. He also produced Bonnie Koloc’s album “With You on My Side” and released “Harmonica Jazz”, the first jazz album ever recorded by a diatonic harmonica player. In 1997 he co-composed and performed the music for singer/songwriter Bonnie Koloc’s musical “Tales from Trashmania”. Howard also composed music for several short films, and arranged and recorded the theme music for PBS TV’s “Sneak Previews”.