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Steve Howe - Steve Howe Trio: The Haunted Melody CD (album) cover


Steve Howe

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4 stars When in 2007 I read that Steve was playing gigs with a jazz trio, I found it jaw-dropping. If a musician who's more than 60 years old chooses to play completely different music, instead of playing oldies over and over again, we have to applaud. If this musician is Steve Howe and he creates a stunning trio to adventure himself into the world of jazz, it's really great news. The Haunted Melody is, as Steve defined it, music breathing its first breaths. His superb musicianship, well known by most fans of progressive rock, finds here a new territory to develop itself. While some say Jimi Hendrix used to play as if he was having sex with his guitar, Steve plays here as a gentleman, treating the guitar as softly as possible.

The album starts with Kenny's Sound, a song by Kenny Burrel, a jazz guitarist who seems to be one of Howe's idols. Beginning with a cool jazzy melody, it goes into jamming as the guitar dialogues perfectly with the hammond organ played by Ross Stanley. Mood for a day is the next, but don't think it'll be a predictable version of this classic piece. Steve plays it for first time on electric guitar, and the song has everything changed, including the time signature. As Steve said in the Trio's concerts, it's surprising what you can do to a tune: bend it, twist it, shake it. The Haunted Melody, by jazz saxophonist/flutist Roland Kirk, is a short tune with a beautiful melody that will be in your head for hours, but I doubt you'll get tired of it. Siberian Khatru is another shaken and twisted tune, in which Ross Stanley's hammond bass carries the changing time signatures. It's a less orthodox jazz piece, but another great new arrangement. Blue Bash was composed by Jimmy Smith, and this arrangement is similar to the one featured on Jimmy's album with Kenny Burrel (also named Blue Bash). Momenta originally appeared on Steve's Quantum Guitar (solo album from 1998) and it's perhaps the less interesting tune here. Closer to free jazz, it could have been shorter in my opinion. Laughing with Larry is Steve's solo piece. He plays acoustic guitar in a finger-picking style similar to Clap. Travelin' is another Kenny Burrel tune that follows the style of Kenny's Sound: starting with a remarkably good melody, it goes into jamming (including a moment when Steve stops playing and his son, Dylan Howe, shows his talents accompanied by the hammond bass) and ends with a rework of the melody from the beginning. Dream River is from Steve's acoustic album Natural Timbre (from 2001) and here it is reworked with a slow tempo and the relaxed fingers of Howe touching the electric guitar gently. Close to the Edge is just the introduction of the epic song from Yes. Dylan ressembles Bill's stylehere , while Ross plays mostly the lines originally from Chris Squire. However, the agressivity of the original song is lacking here, on the drums, on the organ and especially on the guitar. So once in the album I guess Steve could play with a more agressive sound. But the song's signature melody can still give you goosebumps moments... Sweet Thunder finishes the album well, with a good hammond work, but perhaps it lacks a more remarkable melody...

Overall, Steve presents us with a fresh album in which three people who love playing music start a new project. Let's hope for a second album!

Report this review (#196477)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steve Howe is one of my guitar heroes, since I watched the Yessongs movie in 1976 and witnessed the Going For The One tour in 1977 (with his 'guitar museum' on stage). It is such a virtuosic but also versatile guitarist: he easily switches from jazzy scale acrobatics on his many Gibsons electric guitars to tender runs on the classical Spanish - and acoustic Portuguese 12-string guitar or exciting work on the Fender twin steel guitar, awesome!

One of the many side projects from Steve Howe is this trio, founded in 2007. Then The Steve Howe Trio went on tour in order to promote their album The Haunted Melody (released in 2008). The trio features his son Dylan on drums, and the outstanding Hammond organ player Ross Stanley: he started to play piano when he was four and as a teenager he was awarded an organ scholarschip, later he turned into a Hammond specialist and played with Deodato, Trevor Horn and Simply Red.

On this CD the Hammond organ is omnipresent, I am blown away by Ross his work on this distinctive and powerful keyboard. The interplay with Howe is awesome, backed by Dylan his dynamic drumming.

Interesting are the renditions of the three Yes compositions. First Mood For A Day, hardly recognizable with the strong jazzy overtones, but it sounds very tasteful. Then Siberian Khatru, also drenched into a jazz sound and featuring a compelling Hammond solo and a strongly build up guitar solo. And finally a very abridged version of the epic Close To The Edge (around 5 minutes), Ross and Howe deliver great work.

Other strong moments on this album.

The titletrack : wonderful and fragile bluesy play by Howe and a swirling Hammond solo.

Kenny's Sound : a dynamic hommage to Kenny Burrell.

Blue Bash : a splendid tribute to the legendary Hammond player Jimmy Smith, with awesome work on the Hammond and guitar.

And the acoustic, pretty playful Laughing With Larry.

I am sure this first album by The Steve Howe Trio will please the Steve Howe guitar fans, but also the Hammond aficionados, impressive! And if you want more, in 2010 The Steve Howe Trio released the live CD entitled Travelling.

Report this review (#1937655)
Posted Thursday, June 7, 2018 | Review Permalink

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