Steve Khan: The Making of "Parting Shot"
Eyewitness, from left: Manolo Badrena, Anthony Jackson, Steve Khan, Dennis Chambers
Perhaps the first such piece that we experimented with was the title song from that CD, "Casa Loco"and yes, the title is extremely poor Spanish. It should have been titled "Casa Loca"but I knew a lot less about the Spanish language then. That piece clocked-in at 12:32, and includes one of the great, great drum solos ever recorded. It was played by Steve Jordan}.
Some years later, we finally recorded another series of songs in this style for the CD, Public Access (1989). Those songs became: "Sisé," "Kamarica," "Botero People," and "Mama Chóla." All featured the voice and lyrics of Manolo Badrena, plus extended soloing from the group.
To put together such a piece of music requires a great deal of time and patience, and, in the world, as it presently exists, both of those commodities are in short supply for me. Trying to work with Manolo, to create what is needed from him, becomes more difficult with each passing year. But, that stated, I am thrilled with the results, and very proud of what we have now created with "María Mulambo." Why did Manolo's inspiration lead him to write something with primarily Brasilian Portuguese lyrics? I have no idea, none at all. But, when he presented me with various vocal and melodic ideas for these sections, this was the one that spoke to me! So now, we have a piece of music that joins together: James Brown; Afro-Cuban 6/8; the wondrous music of Brasil; and, of course, the atmospheres of Eyewitness. Put 'em together and what have you got? "Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo"!
There are many great percussionists in this world, a few of them can play freely, and float in-and-out of any musicand, of course, there are great vocalists of all types, and of all nationalities in this worldbut, to find all of this, and in one person, that is not such an easy task. Had I never met Manolo? None of this would have been possible. The results are certainly not everyone's taste, but this is, for me, one of the signature musical moments on the recording.
Though everyone had heard the demo of this tune, on which Rob Mounsey sang the vocal parts, no one, except me, had actually heard what Manolo was going to sound like, and do, when the "red light" went on. His adventures in percussion, and his shouts of encouragement were all essentially recorded live as we played together on that Sunday, November 7th, 2010. But, his final vocal performances of the crucial melody sections were not performed and recorded until Monday, November 15th, 2010 at Rob Mounsey's 333 Studios in downtown New York City. It was then that the piece finally began to round into its now finished shape. I hope that everyone will take the time to go on this musical journey with us.
 Influence Peddler (Traficante de Influencias) (Steve Khan)(10:19)
I have had the basic germ for this piece, the intro that you now hear, rumbling around in my head for probably well over 10 years, and I just could not somehow hear where it was supposed to go. But, during March-April of 2010, when I finally dredged myself out of a really dark emotional place, in which I had found myself for a couple of years, I finally found the courage to complete the tune.
The intro section contains a couple of rhythmic oddities, which I know take the tune out of clave, but, I just felt that, after openly recognizing that fact, Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende would just find a way to deal with it, and not bust my balls about itat least not too much! In the end, this tune is one of three cha-cha-chas that appear on the recording.
I suppose that it has more of its rhythmic and harmonic roots in the world of R&B, more than in the Latin idiom, or jazz, for that matter. And, like much of the material that Eyewitness has always chosen to play, the piece wanders and drifts into differing moods and attitudes.