Howard Fishman plays Howard Fishman

photo: Matt Licari

Howard Fishman, composer, guitarist and bandleader, has come to be recognized as one of today's most agile interpreters of the American songbook. Whether he is performing his own compositions or drawing on a seemingly endless repertoire of American popular music, it is all filtered through a sensibility and aesthetic entirely his own. Fishman's performances combine the exuberance and spontaneity of jazz with a storyteller's sense of drama, emotional depth and play. The All-Music Guide calls him "an important force in creative music," and The New York Times has written that his work "transcends time and idiom."

The Biting Fish Brass Band

photo: Matt Licari

A high-energy, contagiously exuberant five piece New Orleans-style brass band, THE BITING FISH is Howard Fishman’s tribute to the Big Easy, his former home.  The band performs originals mixed with a classic brass band repertoire of spirituals, blues, gospel and funk. Featuring tuba, trombone, trumpet and drums and vocals, this project is featured on the recording "BETTER GET RIGHT."

photo: New York Times

photo: New York Times

The Biting Fish have performed extensively in the USA and abroad, including headlining appearances at: Jazz at Lincoln Center, Le Poisson Rouge (NYC), Joe's Pub (NYC), Grand Opera House (DE), Garde Arts Center (CT), Reston Community Theater (VA), Augustibluus Festival (Estonia) and Storyville (Finland).

The "Basement Tapes" Project

Using Greil Marcus’ book THE OLD, WEIRD AMERICA as a touchstone, THE "BASEMENT TAPES" PROJECT explores the mysterious underground recordings made by Bob Dylan and The Band in 1967.  The project has been programmed to wide acclaim at a major national venues, including Lincoln Center’s “American Songbook” series, The Steppenwolf Theatre,  The Flynn Center in Burlington, VT and at Duke Performances in Durham, NC.

Photo: Jack Vartoogian

Photo: Jack Vartoogian

"One of the greatest performances I've seen in my life." - Carter Smith, Common Ground Concerts

"Fishman, much like Dylan himself, is loath to tarry very long in any one particular neck of the musical woods. Something of a sonic Zelig, Fishman works backward to get to the root of Dylan's source material, rather than attempting to drag the rustic songs into the 21st century." - David Sprague, VARIETY

"Nothing short of spectacular. Dylan's Basement Tapes obviously are simply muse inspiration...the show is as much Fishman's creation as it is Dylan’s oeuvre. Everyone in Fishman's band is not just a virtuoso but a total innovator. Reminded me of the Rolling Thunder Review in 1975." - Donald Wilcox, Blues Revue Magazine

"Not a tribute...Aside from offering public performances of music that Dylan refuses to release, it presents an important critical lesson about Dylan's past-into-present musical relationship with The Band while using the songs themselves more as suggestions than scripts." - Grayson Currin, INDY WEEK

"Moving, full of pleasure and real—nothing virtual about it."  Marc Woodworth,  Salmagundi Magazine and author of How To Write About Music

"Beautiful and ethereal in a timeless way." - Brett Sigurdson, BURLINGTON WRITERS WORKSHOP

"Musically powerful...blew me away." - KEENE EQUINOX

Read More about Howard Fishman's "Basement Tapes" Project:

Q&A with Howard in SEVEN DAYS

For Howard Fishman, Dylan Is Just The Beginning, Troy Record

"Basement Tapes" Project videos & recording

Howard Fishman Quartet

The band that landed Fishman in New York City’s Algonquin Oak Room for an extended residency and went on to take Paris by storm, the Howard Fishman Quartet plays pre-war jazz, blues and standards with Fishman’s vocals and guitar accompanied by violin, trumpet and upright bass. Stephen Holden, writing in The New York Times, said “rather than studiously copying the sounds of the past, this band recombines familiar sounds to create its own brand of classicism [that] transcends time and idiom.” This band is featured on the recordings "The Howard Fishman Quartet" Volumes I, II and III.

The Howard Fishman Quartet has headlined on prestiguous jazz and cabaret stages worldwide, including: The Algonquin Oak Room, Feinstein's at the Regency, The Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, NJPAC, Jazz @ Lincoln Center, The Steppenwolf Theater, Le Petit Journal (Paris), Sardi's, Stamford Center for the Arts and The Chicago Humanities Festival.

"The Freshest Small-Group Swing In The City."    - THE NEW YORKER
"Celestial Talent."    - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Moon Country: The Music Of Hoagy Carmichael

A meeting of kindred musical spirits, MOON COUNTRY is Howard Fishman's take on the music of the late, great singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. Like Fishman's own original compositions, Hoagy Carmicahel's music fuses various strains of what has come to be called "Americana" to fashion a catalogue as diverse as it is iconic and beloved. Jazz, Blues, Country, Western Swing, Pop and Hillbilly music all meet in well-known standards like "Georgia," "Stardust" and "Skylark," while Fishman's fondness for digging up buried treasure also unearths forgotten Hoagy gems like "Blue Orchids," "Judy" and "I Walk With Music."

Carmichael's laid-back, understated style, both as a composer and a performer, finds a natural contemporary voice in Fishman's "charming...and disarmingly un-showbizzy" approach (BACKSTAGE).

No Further Instructions

photo: Michael Benanav

NO FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS is a multimedia song cycle centered around Howard Fishman's true-life adventures in rural Romania with his childhood friend (and New York Times travel journalist/photographer) Michael Benanav.  The project combines original music, historical memoir, storytelling and photography to essay their exploits together in far-flung Eastern Europe.

For Fishman, the journey was an occasion for intense personal reflection and mediation on his role as an artist, an American, a Jew, and a human being.  The songs he would come to write for the album No Further Instructions detail an inward spiritual quest in which basic assumptions he has held about his place in the world are called into question.  Using his typically iconoclastic musical vocabulary, Fishman’s music uses melodic pop, bluegrass, classical, experimental rock and gospel while weaving in Balkan brass and European waltzes, to create a vibrant palate for this collection of songs.

photo: Michael Benanav

The trip’s purpose had a spiritual dimension for both friends. Benanav was researching the geography of his origins, visiting the places where his paternal grandparents were born and, most importantly, where they lived and suffered during World War II. Ultimately escaping the clutches of the Nazis in a series of incredible events, they met by chance on the deck of a refugee boat sailing from Romania in December, 1944; with no common language, they were married three days later on a train to Palestine, where they became active in the armed Jewish resistance against British occupation. Benanav tells their story in the memoir Joshua and Isadora: A True Tale of Loss and Love in the HolocaustWeaving in episodes from his trip with Fishman as a backdrop for the historical tale, Benanav’s book is a commentary on Jewish identity and how his grandparent’s world has changed over the last half-century (and how it’s remained the same).

photo: Michael Benanav

In performance NO FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS combines Fishman's songs with Benanav’s luminous photographs to illustrate and comment on the stories via overhead projections, while Fishman’s ensemble uses the songs as launching pads for their own musical explorations, by turns unexpected and explosive and also profoundly intimate.  Michael Benanav joins the project when his schedule permits, adding readings from his book and personal narrative to the show’s arc. 

At its core, NO FUTHER INSTRUCTIONS is about community and spirituality in the 21st century -- about what it means to live a mindful life, and what connects us all as humans and citizens of the world.

photo: Michael Benanav

photo: Michael Benanav

photo: Michael Benanav

No Further Instructions videos and recording