Steve Khan – Parting Shot (Tone Center – 2011)



Parting Shot (Golpe de Partida) is an extraordinary debut for the guitarist, Steve Khan. He is veteran by any stretch of imagination, but in the company of illustrious peers such as Al Di Meola, Lee Ritenour and others he appears almost self-effacing for this is his first full foray into the realm of the Latin American musical idiom. Khan has always been known for possessing near-perfect technique, which when combined with his whisper-soft expression produces a flawless, soaring dynamic. Although Khan has played decades ago with the likes of Manolo Badrena—himself a veteran of bands such as Weather Report and Joe Zawinul—the guitarist waited, it seems, for the Latin American idiom to mature in him like rare wine before he actually cut his first full record playing that music. And it is a priceless album.

First of all, the music flows with the kind of hip-swish that only someone with Khan’s fluency could imbue it. Although this is a characteristic throughout the album it is brilliantly audible on Thelonious Monk’s “Bye-Ya”. Here Khan not only captures the deep blue swagger of the piece, but also its other moist colors. Moreover, Khan is a guitarist who plays with acute angularity and this makes him someone who is closer to Monk than most. His melodic leaps tell a story of the innate wildness of his imagination. How Khan has managed to keep this hidden is anyone’s guess. He also brings this defiant streak to bear as he tackles two of Ornette Coleman’s complex charts. Both “Chronology” and “Blues Connotation” are compositions from the early days of that composer’s Harmolodic inventions and are, as such, extraordinarily adventurous. Khan tackles both charts with flair and a dexterity that seems to suggest that he has mastered some of the most difficult music since that of Monk’s and Herbie Nichols’.

Next, and probably most notable of all, is the fact that Khan has composed all of the other charts on the album himself. This is quite an achievement in itself and might indicate that the guitarist has been preparing for a long time to make an album honouring the Latin American music tradition. That being the case Khan deserves much honour in return. His music is not only stylish and extremely sophisticated, but also rhythmically authentic. A chart like “Los Gaiteros” could have been written by a sublime master of Latin American music, for instance and although the other titles have English names, they are more authentically Latin. Even the benign ballad “When She’s Not Here” shakes and swoops like the beautiful cha-cha-cha that it is, and while Khan soars harmonically the percussionists are truly magnificent as they lay the groundwork for Dennis Chambers’ superb solo. What’s more the augmented and diminished pattern that drives the whole percussion sequence brings the song home in dramatic fashion.

It is also true that the percussionists led by Chambers and Badrena, who also co-wrote the wonderful “María Mulambo,” lay down the rhythmic style with sophistication and a mighty shuffle. Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende are also superb and play with understated elegance as they embellish the music with memorable and almost melodic rhythm. It would be remiss not to mention bassist Anthony Jackson, who, like Khan is also a rather diffident musician, but has been baptized through the fire by the likes of Michel Camilo. It is almost certain that Steve Khan would not have made so perfect a record without Jackson anchoring the bass role with understated, but characteristic elegance.

Track Listing:

1. Chronology
2. Los Gaiteros
3. Change Agent
4. Bye-Ya
5. María Mulambo
6. Influence Peddler
7. When She’s Not Here
8. Blues Connotation
9. Zancudoville
10. Just Deserts.

Personnel:

Steve Khan: guitar; Anthony Jackson: contrabass guitar; Dennis Chambers: drums; Manolo Badrena: percussion, voice (5, 10); Marc Quiñones: timbal, bongo, percussion; Bobby Allende: conga; Rob Mounsey: keyboards (9), orchestrations (2, 4, 6, 7); Tatiana Parra: voice (6); Andreas Beeuwaert: voice (6).

[audio:http://www.latinjazznet.com/audio/new-cds/10-2011/Steve Khan – Los Gaiteros.mp3|titles=Los Gaiteros – From the CD “Parting Shot”]

Steve Khan on the web: www.stevekhan.com

Review written by: Raul da Gama

Danilo Navas
Founder, Editor, Webmaster: Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report, Toronto Music Report. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

More from author

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

FROM OUR VINYL STOREspot_img
FROM OUR VINYL STOREspot_img

Featured Posts

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

A Brief History of the Cuban Style Conjunto

1930: The Orquesta Típica is out and the Conjunto is in The year 1930 marked a turning point in the development of popular Cuban music....

Jazz Plaza 2020: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter three of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana Featured photo: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at El Tablao in Havana, by Danilo...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more