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In the Artist's Own Words

Steve Khan: The Making of "Parting Shot"

By Published: April 24, 2011
In some aspects, the end result was better than I had anticipated given the conditions. And so, this piece opens the recording, because it does reflect the tone, the mood, and the attitude that we were trying to present. When we were recording, my sense was that the performance was long, perhaps in the 7-8 minute area. But, when we were listening to the playback in the control room, and I asked our assistant engineer, Rick Kwan, how long the track was, he responded by telling me that it was barely 4-1/2 minutes, and I couldn't believe it. Anthony felt the same way as me. It's remarkable how your perception of the passage of time can be skewed when you're under tremendous pressures. And now, realizing that the tune is but 4:17? Well, this is probably the shortest track I have ever presented on a CD of mine!

I should note that the nature of the bass part, and its relation to Dennis' kick drum in the intro, is a most respectful nod to Issac Delgado's Salsa classic, "Deja que Roberto te toque," a tune which I just love to death!


[2] Los Gaiteros (Steve Khan)(6:02)

"Los Gaiteros" was originally composed for what would have been my third CD with the Caribbean Jazz Project, which also featured Dave Samuels
Dave Samuels
Dave Samuels
b.1948
vibraphone
and Dave Valentin
Dave Valentin
Dave Valentin
b.1952
flute
. We were scheduled to record in early 2002, but personal and musical problems with Dave Samuels caused me to quit the group before I could record this tune. I always liked this one, because the piece is written in 3/4, but the bass tumbao makes it sound as though it is in 4/4. Anthony's bass, linked to Dennis' foot makes this seem completely "normal" when it is obviously not! After much thought, now I believe that I should have written the tune out in 6/4.

The title is, perhaps, a word that I made up in tribute to the great musicians from Venezuela, oftentimes from Maracaibo, or that vicinity, who play a style, a genre of music called "gaita," which most Venezolanos associate with the Christmas holidays. To me, rhythmically, gaita is often so complex that I have no idea where "one" is, nor what else is going on. I remember once asking my dear friend, Rafael Greco, a master of this music, to build a track for me from the bottom up, to show me just how "gaita" is constructed, from a rhythmic perspective. As he created the track, I was following along pretty well—but, when he began to place the vocal, I was, as usual, completely and totally lost. So, this piece is my most humble tribute to the musicians who play this kind of music so effortlessly. I admire them greatly!

When we began to rehearse this tune, Marc Quiñones begged me to please record this tune last—he just could not get comfortable with what was going on. It all felt so backwards for him. In addition, at that same rehearsal, Bobby Allende told me that he didn't want to solo over the last solo section created for conga. Needless to say, that was about the last thing that I wanted to hear. However, when we recorded this tune, at some point on Day #2, for some reason, all the players assembled found something within, and this performance is now one of my personal favorites on the entire recording. I have always told people, when they have asked, that if the music I play has "mood" and "attitude" then I can be happy with the results. This piece, in its way, has plenty of those two elements! In the end, both Marc and Bobby played beautifully in all the ensemble sections, and contributed great solos as well.

I must also note that, on this tune, we have the first appearance of Rob Mounsey's orchestration talents, which are vast. Initially, I just asked him to enhance the guitar harmonies of the [B] sections where they appear. Yet, he added a few other wonderful touches here and there as well.


[3] Change Agent (El Catalizador) (Steve Khan)(8:15)

This piece was originally completely improvised, and appeared on the Red CD that is part of the package for my book, Contemporary Chord Khancepts. I liked the melodic content of the chordal passages and the attitude so much that I decided to make a full piece of music out of it. Finishing it, just like everything else on this recording was a great struggle for me. The little breakdown section, which appears as an interlude, was inspired by something similar on the title track from Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
Cal Tjader
1925 - 1982
vibraphone
's influential recording, Soul Burst (Verve), recorded in 1966, and that recording featured a very young, but exceptionally polished, Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
.


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