Born and raised in the Bay Area of Northern California, Elé Salif Howell officially began his drumming career at the tender age of two, with the gifting of his first drum set. Elé studied piano and composition with Art Khu, and played in after school Oaktown Jazz Workshops. He continued his music studies at NYU, where he met drum master Lenny White, forming a close apprenticeship that was decidedly old school. Elé credits his inspiration and influence from a variety of teachers, including his father, Richard Howell whom he has recorded several albums with (notably with Richard Howell and Sudden Changes), as well as Babatunde Lea, E.W. Wainwright, Khalil Shaheed, Larry Van, James Henry, Jack Dorsey, Sly Randolph and Angela Wellman.
At six years old, Elé first met Christian Scott at Yoshi's in Oakland, Ca, where he sat in with the band. Today, Elé is on tour with Chief Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, with upcoming shows across the world.
The Coltrane name has always been a part of Elé’s musical journey, and that remains relevant today, as he joins Ravi Coltrane, son of jazz legend and saxophonist, John Coltrane, band.
“He’s a fabulous musician,” Coltrane says. “Just an excellent drummer who plays with a lot of heart and intensity. I love the way he rides the cymbal and plays the bass drum. You can hear a lot of the great modern drummers influencing him, and it’s important for older players to be around young players who have their own unique insights and takes on music.”
As a young drummer, Elé continues to write and compose, creating with inspirations from his immersive cultural experiences, travels and people who he meets along the way.
Some notable artists that he has worked with include Stanley Clarke, John Scofield, Gill Goldstein, Brandee Younger, Reggie Workman, John Santos, David Gilmore, Weedie Braimah, Mike Rodriguez, Jeff Chambers, Alex Sipiagan and more.