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JUA / Press

“It's not smooth jazz. It's not another artist trying to become "the male version of Diana Krall" (nothing against Diana, btw, but it's time to jazz vocalists to move on and look for other references.) From the opener, Sam Rivers' "Beatrice," it's clear that Jua is a classy singer gifted with a strong persona, warm & silky voice, deep & pure tone, and creative phrasing. You can hear traces of Mark Murphy's influences, but Jua is his own man, with a sound that has the dimensions of jazz, blues and soul. He knows how to work all the subtleties and nuances, and it's evident everywhere; in the vocal/acoustic guitar duo on Bob Dorough's "Love Came On Stealthy Fingers" (the best version I've heard since Carmen McRae's one) or in the tracks with larger instrumentation. I can assure you've never heard a rendition of "Old Devil Moon" like this on "Colors of Life." Neither Bill Wither's "Let Me Be The One."”

“Jua (no last name? OK!) works on seduction here. He’s got a breathy low tenor voice and soulful delivery, and makes it work on material ranging from Sam Rivers’ flexible “Beatrice” to lyrical “Believe.” The teammates Roger Byam/ts-ss, Shan Kenner/g, Onaje Allan gumbs/key, Gregory M. Jones/b, Vince Ector/dr and Gary Fritz/perc can allow Jua to float like clouds as on a gorgeous “Old Devil Moon” or get moody with silhouettes as on “You’re My Alter Ego.” He displays a rich vibrato with some classical guitar on a passionate “Love Came On Stealthy Fingers” and goes wispy and dreamy with Byam’s tenor on “Colors of Life.” He’s got it down!”

“Colors of Life isn’t his debut recording, but the effort does mark a jazz-focused debut for vocalist Jua. The sophomore effort for the North Carolina-based talent makes quite the impression. While the singer has a voice that remind some of other talents, he has quite the style and sound of his own. In fact, it was so distinguished that it won him the Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship at Berkeley’s Jazzschool Insititute (now known as the California Jazz Conservatory). Produced by veteran pianist, arranger and composer Onaje Allan Gumbs, the production is a mesmerizing showcase of the singer’s command of lyric and tone. The set features a nice palette of originals by Jua and excellently arranged covers of tunes by Abbey Lincoln, Bill Withers, Sam Rivers, Bob Dorough and James Williams. Making the music for the words are Gumbs on keys, guitarist Shan Kenner, drummer Victor Ector, bassist Gregory M. Jones, saxophonist Roger Byam and percussionist Gary Fritz.”

“Jua, well i am very proud to say i have been around watching his musical growth for a good few years,i hope i am right in saying i was the first in Europe to play his music on my own show on Jazz Syndicate Radio,those original tracks went on to become the building blocks of his debut album "Anticipation". Know after our long discussions over the years and my gentle advice that he should focus his talent towards jazz well here it is "Colours Of Life" 10 tracks that highlight JUA's stunning vocals. It's a blend of classic jazz songs and some of his own compositions,he sings from his soul to make this an enlightening and beautiful album. Aja (Ketch A Vibe)”

"What came from those studies is Howard’s second major album, out since June 24, 2014 on Chocolate Chi Music. The 10-track Colors Of Life features the The 10-track Colors Of Life features the aspiring jazz vocalist and composer on four of his own tunes — three co-written with former Jazzschool instructor, pianist Matt Clark, and guitarist Shan Kenner, who’s on the record as a part of the band — and revamped standards by Bill Withers, Abbey Lincoln, Sam Rivers, Yip Harburg/Burton Lane, Bob Dorough, and James Williams and Pamela Baskin-Watson." "From the opening of Rivers’ “Beatrice,” which Howard lyricized, to his original tune with Clark on the jazz jump-start, “Finally,” it’s clear the student came to play."

“Colors of Life was released on June 24, 2014 and it delivers everything this music-lover looks for in good music. The opening notes of the first track, a wonderful cover of Sam Rivers’ tune “Beatrice,” are reminiscent of hearing the striking up of the band in anticipation of the musical ride that is to follow. Jua’s voice wraps around every note carefully, and it is evident that he embodies a combination of natural vocal talent, as well as vocal training. Abbey Lincoln’s “Bird Alone” places the listener into an intimate setting with Jua, much like the house concerts and smaller jazz venues he often frequents. Jua is backed by a stellar group of musicians, including keyboardist Onaje Allan Gumbs, who also produced Colors of Life. Saxophonist Roger Byam adds a special touch to Gumbs’ arrangement of “Old Devil Moon.” Jua’s vocals on the tune are as intoxicating as the lyrics suggest.”

“JUA/Colors of Life: This jazz vocalist was realist enough to see that artist development and apprenticeship were things of the past and ‘invested in his own brand' enough to come up with an interesting debut. Realizing he wasn't too cool for school, especially when receiving the school's first Mark Murphy Scholarship, he went back to refine under the aegis of some jazz masters. Changing direction upon graduation, Jua now finds himself with a dandy case of sophomore jinx repellant with this this breezy, deceptively simple second outing. Assimilating SoCal jazz as much as an NC cat can, he's now firmly exploring the pocket of the great male jazz vocalists of the past. With elements of everyone from Joe Williams to Al Jarreau on board, this is smoking stuff throughout. A tasty ear opener that's really firing on all eight.”

“Jua Howard, a 30-year-old singer from Chicago and a member of the Jazzschool Institute's 2009 entering class, has just been named the first recipient of the newly established Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship, it has been announced by Jazzschool Institute Vocal Director Laurie Antonioli. ”

Terri Hinte - AllAboutJazz

“Vocalist Jua Howard Makes Jump from Soul to Jazz Two years ago, Jua Howard was making something of name for himself in neo-soul circles, crooning in velvety tenor tones reminiscent of Luther Vandross and Will Downing in clubs in New York City and London. “Anticipation,” his 2007 self-released CD of mostly original ballads, was picking up play on smooth-jazz and R&B stations. Earlier, he had sung background vocals for the Blackbyrds, the Washington, D.C. band known for such 1970s hits as “Walking in Rhythm” and “Happy Music.” ”

Lee Hildebrand - The Oakland Post

“Vocalist Jua Howard Makes Jump from Soul to Jazz Yet Jua, who uses only his first name professionally (it’s Swahili for “sun”), was having second thoughts about his musical direction. “I got tired of what I was doing,” the 30-year-old Chicago-born singer says following a vocal performance class at the Jazzschool Institute in Berkeley. “With the neo-soul scene, everything started sounding the same.” During the summer, Jua quit his nine-to-five job with a nonprofit scholarship program in D.C., moved to East Palo Alto and enrolled at the Jazzschool. The singer, who holds a BA in English from Emory University in Atlanta, is again a fulltime student. Other current classes include ear training/sight singing, working musician, jazz theory and world music. He also studies privately with noted vocal coach Raz Kennedy, formerly of Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra. ”

Lee Hildebrand - The Oakland Post