Elé Salif Howell

Photo by David Tau


        Drummer, pianist, and composer, Elé Salif Howell was born and raised in San Francisco California. Elé is the drummer for the spirited jazz ensemble Richard Howell and Sudden Changes who recently released a CD entitled MANGAKU The band includes veteran jazz notables such as pianist Frederick Harris ( of the famed jazz group the Leaders lead by Chico Freeman and Billy Hart, Stanford Jazz and Blastin’ Barriers ), alto saxophonist Charles McNeal (seen alongside John Faddis, Wynton Marsalis, and McCoy Tyner), tenor saxophonist and father Richard Howell (seen alongside Etta James, Chaka Khan and Maurice White ) and special guest Grammy nominated and award winning trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. 

         Elé graduated from Drew College Preparatory High School in San Francisco with honors and has continued his education at New York University. Pivotal drum masters such as Babatunde Lea, Lenny White, E.W. Wainwright, Billy Drummond, Darrell Green and Larry Vann, among others, directly influenced Elé’s artistic, cultural, social and spiritual development. Part of Elé’s musical development is also attributed to Oaktown Jazz Workshops founded by Khalil Shaheed and currently led by director Ravi Abcarian. One of the most influential people in his life is his longtime music teacher and mentor, multi-instrumentalist, Art Khu. At the age of four Elé started studying piano with Art, which laid the groundworks for him as a young composer. 

        Throughout his career Elé has performed in numerous venues, including: Yoshi's —Oakland & San Francisco, SFJazz Center, the Fillmore Jazz Festival, the Malcolm X Jazz Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Herbst Theater, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Portfest World Music & Jazz Festival, the Paramount Theater, as well as the XJAZZ Festival and famed jazz club the Badenscher Hof in Berlin.  

        Elé has performed with renown artists such as Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, George Cables, Regina Carter, Steve Turre, Esperanza Spalding, Sean Jones, Salif Kieta, John Santos, John Scofield, Billy Harper, Shawn Thwaites, John Handy, Avery Sharpe, Eddie Marshal, Mathew Stevens, Braxton Cook, Ronda Benin, Hilton Ruiz, among others.