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drum set
Jim playing at Escafe

Jim Howe    

I was born in Louisville, KY, in 1955. I began studying drums at age nine and started playing in neighborhood bands shortly thereafter. By high school, I was performing every weekend with some of Louisville’s most popular dance bands, and  spent several formative years studying with famous jazz drummer John Roy and percussionist James Rago of the Louisville Orchestra. I continued to perform throughout college until 1978, when I moved to San Francisco to further my musical career.


After several years of musical frustration trying to break into the music scene in San Francisco, I left drumming to pursue a PhD in Materials Science at UC-Berkeley, which eventually lead me to Charlottesville, VA, where I teach and perform research as a professor in the Department of Materials Science at the University of Virginia.  


I returned to drumming in 2007, when I started sitting in with organist George Melvin at the South Street Brewery. I eventually became George’s regular drummer in his popular B3 Quartet featuring Jamal Milner and Dave Sanford, as well as in ACME Swing Mfg. Co., the Bennie Dodd Band, and several other Charlottesville-based groups. I have furthered my drumming technique by studying with local great Robert Jospé and making occasional trips to visit legendary Ronnie Free at The Homestead. I currently play with the Sentimental Journey Big Band, the 3JM Jazz Quartet,  Vince Lewis’s Sophistication, The Jazz Engineers, the Jim Howe Jazz Ensemble, and as a sideman in a variety of musical situations in the Charlottesville and surrounding areas, including Nursing Homes Swing! (thank you Jackie Hostage and Mary Beth Revak!), Lew Morrison’s Wednesday Night Jazz at the Mill St. Grill in Staunton, every first Wednesday each month with Lesly Gourdet and Friends at the Whiskey Jar in Charlottesville, and the first Thursday with the Dick Orange Quintet at Tavern on the James in Scottsville.

My favorite format is a small ensemble, e.g. trio/quartet, and I have had the pleasure of performing with such local (and international) greats as Hod O’Brien, Stephanie Nakasian, Veronica Swift, Royce Campbell, Bert Carlson, Vince Lewis, Randy Johnston, Dwight Spencer, Charles Owens, Bobby Read, Mike Elswick, Jeff Decker, John Jensen, Lew Morrison, Bob Bowen, Chris Dammann, Pete Spaar, Bob Bennetta, Dick Orange, Susanna Rosen, Jonah Kane-West, Trevor Williams, Haywood Giles, Lesly Gourdet, Bill Edmunds, Bob DuCharme, Audry Goldsmith, Larry Bisgaier, Jason Lyman, Larry Swift, Katherine Shaver, and so many others, including all the fantastic musicians I play with in Sentimental Journey (Ray Hoaster, director/arranger, and a dedicated sound engineer Doug Campbell).


Although I consider myself a jazz musician, I love playing other types of music, particularly soul and funk, and appreciate the unique challenges and appeal that they offer. In this regard, I recently spent several years playing with the Marla Palma Band ( and just started with 180 Band . At the other end of the musical spectrum, I equally like the challenge of reading music and punching the horn section in a big band like Sentimental Journey and am continually working on improving these skills. Please check out some of these great performers/groups in the videos and recordings posted in Music and Video, and in the Drummer's CornerMore information can also be found on my Facebook page


In addition to the great musicians above, I have had the honor of recording as a session drummer for the very talented musician/composer Bob Mete of Redd Productions. Some of these sound tracks can be heard on well-known shows such as ABC’s Nashville, the series Graves featuring Nick Nolte, the movie About Scout  featuring Jane Seymour and Danny Glover, CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and even for Whole Foods !


I also have the pleasure of being represented by Chris Munson of 20 South Productions , who has been making music happen in Central Virginia for many years. I also want to thank Gary Funston of WTJU and the Charlottesville Jazz Society, who do so many great things to promote the jazz community here in Charlottesville that it’s simply hard to enumerate. 





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