Steve Khan: The Making of "Parting Shot"
But, the bigger question became just how could I interpret this great piece of music in a true Latin style? So, I immediately consulted with the authentic Latin grooves that the great Marc Quiñones performed on his Audio Sampling CD for LP Latin Percussion, recorded in 1995. I found that his Songo groove was perfect for this tune. And so, when I was fortunate enough to have the brilliant Rob Mounsey make the demos for me, we used Marc's Songo. However, the greater challenge for me was, how could I maintain a healthy respect for all the Latin traditions, and the clave, and still embrace the looseness, the spacey-ness, the zaniness achieved on all the various Eyewitness recordings? I hoped that this could be done.
"Chronology," from a melodic perspective, gives one the feeling that it might be a version of some kind of "rhythm changes" tune. But, of course, it's not really approached that way by the original quartet at all. I decided to transcribe the first [B] section that Ornette improvised on the original recording. As I had already transcribed the bass, as Charlie Haden had played it, the improvised melody did not seem to "make any sense" with the harmonic indications of the bass notes. Yes, it sounded great when they did it, but I had no confidence that it would achieve the same affect if Anthony Jackson and I played it that way. In the key of F major, one might expect that a "rhythm changes" bridge would cycle through the following chords: A7-D7-G7-C7. I suppose one could say that Ornette's first lines might indicate a sense of Eb7, which is the b5 substitute of A7, but, after that, things became very fuzzy. So, I just tried to make sense of it all in a way that was musical for me. And that's what you now hear the two times that [B] appears.
For the recording, we only had two rehearsals. The first just included Anthony Jackson; Dennis Chambers; and Manolo Badrena and myself. As Dennis felt that this was best for him, I was fine with that. The second rehearsal, which took place the day before the two recording sessions, Marc Quiñones(timbal) and Bobby Allende(conga) joined usand it was then that the music began to work its way into its final recorded form.
As we played through all the pieces, I wasn't at all certain that my ideas for just how this Eyewitness meets Latin music concept could work would, and, in fact, become a reality. In the end, those ideas changed greatlyas I simply took the suggestions from everyone, but especially from Marc and Bobby. The key element to executing the pieces in performance while recording would be just how I could cue us all into the next section while soloing. The layout of Studio "A" at Avatar Studios, here in New York City, is certainly workable, if everyone is willing to sacrifice a little for the sake of the group sound, and, perhaps, above all, to create good sightlines between Anthony; Dennis and me. This is crucial. Of course, right away, as soon as Anthony walked in, he refused to play the way James Farber, our engineer, had configured his iso-booth, which was the best possible solution, given that Anthony likes to "feel" his amp next to him. But, Manolo would be in the iso-booth behind him, and so, when Anthony chose to reconfigure the booth, with his amp now facing directly at Manolo's booth, it meant that the bass would be leaking all over Manolo's tracks. And, worst of all, it meant that Dennis and I could not have clear eye contact with Anthony. This made me feel horribleand, I felt that my concept of just how we could pull-off the "looseness factor" was rapidly "floating out of the window."
I tried a stopgap solution by making a platform for myself, constructed by stacking the gobos on the floor in my iso-booth and thus elevating my position so that I could see Anthony a bit better. But, this was not adequate! And so, on the first day, in order to try to accomplish getting five tunes recorded, I decided to go after the tunes that would be, in my view, the easiest to perform under these conditions. We did however record "Chronology" second on the first day. After that, I had to make that big decision about how to best finish Day #1.