Trail Magic, a jazz-leaning “jam band” is the creation of violinist Christian Howes and guitarist Joel Newton. The term, popular among Appalachian Trail hikers, means an unexpected act of kindness, something thoughtful or useful left behind by an anonymous fellow traveler.
Howes is an award-winning trail-blazer, having transitioned from classical roots to make huge violin inroads into blues, gospel, rock (he’s often called the “Hendrix of the violin”), and jazz (#1 Rising Star Violinist in the Downbeat Critics Poll). He tours the globe with his own and others’ groups and is widely considered one of the top improvising violinists. He has collaborated with Spyro Gyra, Robben Ford, Frank Vignola, Dafnis Prieto, and many others, and toured for 4 years in Bill Evans’ “Soulgrass” band. Howes has a long, varied discography (see www.christianhowes.com)
Newton is a bandleader and prolific composer, most notably with his Joel Newton Situation, a funk-fusion group that cut its teeth with long residencies at NYC’s Knitting Factory and went on to garner wide praise for its two recordings, “One” and “Crying and Laughing.” The Village Voice said of “One,” “Improv- and prog-rock nuts no less than jazzbos should get a sharp shock of recognition from this double-guitar quartet, a sort of Medeski, Martin and Mahavishnu thing that cuts loose from tight heads to travel the spaceways." Newton performs regularly with other musicians and bands as well, including The Concentrics, David Budway, Catherine Dail and Steev Richter.
Howes and Newton performed in each other’s groups for years before teaming up to tour and record together. Their debut album, Trail Magic, features original compositions of the two artists. It was recorded immediately following a 3-week Midwest tour with a quartet completed by Walter Fischbacher on keyboards and Aviv Cohen on drums. The music straddles jazz and funk, with driving jams and wide-ranging moods.