Steve Howell, Dan Sumner & Jason Weinheimer – Long Ago
Format: CD
Label: Out Of The Past Music / Burnside Distribution Corp.
Releasedatum: 17 april 2020

On his ninth album , “Long Ago,” Texas guitarist and vocalist, Steve Howell, continues a remarkable creative run that has lasted over a decade exploring the depths of the great American songbook. “I am a lover of American music from the first half of the 20th century. I like it rural, urban, country blues, traditional jazz, Appalachian music, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. I love it all, “says Howell about his mission to play as much music as he can.

Photo Credit: Greg Spradlin

This new release finds Howell collaborating once again with bassist Jason Weinheimer and jazz guitar journeyman Dan Sumner, joining him on arch top and flat top acoustic guitars, to produce a trio recording that is absolutely the definition of easy listening. The eleven tracks include timeless jazz standards and hidden gems from the past, which Howell brings to fresh light by adding vocals and singing lyrics that time may have forgotten. His velvety baritone and soothing delivery bring the listener up close and personal to the experience, allowing us to drink in every emotional detail and pause to ponder the significance of every word, as only a master storyteller can do.

The sweet swinging tune from the 1920’s, ‘Singing The Blues,’ opens the album and sets the tone for things to come with Howell and Weinheimer melding together as the rhythm section, while Sumner adds tasteful leads that support the vocal melody. Howell takes cues from Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra on his spacious reading of ‘Angel Eyes.’ He then pays tribute to fellow red dirt poet Percy Mayfield on ‘Please Send Me Someone To Love,’ written for Ray Charles by the Louisiana native in 1950. The lover’s plea, ‘Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear From Me,’ is modeled after the 1959 Mose Allison version and features a spry solo from Sumner. With Howell’s take on the well-known Horace Silver jazz standard, ‘Song For My Father,’ he creates his own loving homage to his dad. The fellas show off their skills on those beautiful arch topped guitars on the bossa nova standard ‘Dindi’ and get back to basics on a soulful reading of ‘Nothing But The Blues.’

Howell lightens the mood with a snappy number, ‘Z’s,’ and takes the swing era hit ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,’ back to its Yiddish roots with an oom-pah beat underpinning. The lovely melodic instrumental track, ‘I’ll Remember April,’ has a lilting Spanish guitar feel, and the Johnny Mercer ballad, ‘I Thought About You,’ is another great composition that Howell saves from obscurity. The lyrics were originally written as a breakup song, but here he is singing more about his love for all the songs of yesteryear that seem to have been left by the wayside.

This collection of songs; “Long Ago,” are lovingly brought back to life to remind us that they were once popular songs of the day, heard on the radio, in film and in dance halls; music that was and still is sophisticated and timeless. Howell, Sumner and Weinheimer have capitalized on that magic once again.