Giacomo Gates’ deep, Vinho do Porto-soaked vocals are featured on four of the songs. He’s a great stylist who rides on the rim of a note, exemplified on Howe’s originals "I’ll Remember Your Smile" and "Midnight on the Beach." In the opener "Let’s Do It," from Porter’s 1928 Broadway success Paris, Gates and Howe (on vocals) sing the repeated line "Let’s do it. Let’s fall in love" during the last minute of the tune. They again sprinkle their voices at the end of Arlen’s 1946 declarative love song "Come Rain or Come Shine."
Cole Porter’s "True Love" (from 1956’s High Society) is a charmer by Howe, bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Matt Slocum. The repeated melody line throughout gives Howe enough of an open floor to play with plenty of flair. Howe (this time with bassist Jim DeJulio replacing Colangelo) adds his own remembrances of romance to Harold Arlen’s "Let’s Fall in Love" from 1933 with rich, emotive statements. James Van Heusen’s "Moonlight Becomes You" from the 1942 comical vehicle for Bing Crosby and Bob Hope - Road to Morooco - begins with a soft-shoe shuffle from Slocum and then just swings away with Howe and DeJulio.
Two other Howe originals are sung by stage, screen and television personality Lainie Kazan. The lyrics to "If I Had Known" and "Love Song" are by Rebekah Miller and both tunes are accompanied by a string section and percussionist Aaron Serfaty. Kazan, whose sometimes unwieldy vocals distract from her performance, is corralled by the pace and breadth of these two compositions. As she sings into each note, she sounds light-hearted and relaxed.
Not all singers or instrumentalists have the wherewithal and depth to perform Van Heusen’s "All the Way" in the way that vocalist Etta Jones did on her 1960s Prestige release Don’t Go to Strangers. DeJulio does. His unmeasured solo throbs with warmth and sentiment. It eventually gives way to an up-tempo, light-stepping affair. "All the Way" was written in 1957 for the movie The Joker Is Wild and received the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.
Love Song is a balanced meal of originality, craftsmanship and taste. Each song is well tended to by Howe and is shown off with snazzy arrangements. Howe’s strength in arranging seems to extend to his ability in collecting the right talent to express his ideas, too. There is much to love in Love Song.