Steve Khan: The Making of "Parting Shot"
When I had written the portion that became letter [C], I realized that the movement of the top note of the guitar voicings would not be enough to carry the full melodic weight of the section. So, I then composed, what some would refer to as, a "real" melody line to be sung by a vocalist. Of course, my initial thought was that Manolo Badrena would sing the part. But, thanks to yet another miracle of the Internet Age, I had become "friends" with Andrés Beeuwsaert, who plays piano and sings as part of the wonderful Aca Seca Trio from Argentina. The more that I listened to the vocalese section of this piece, I thought that maybe Andrés would be a great choice for someone to sing it. So, via email, he and I spoke about this idea, and I sent him an MP3 of the original demo. After listening, he wrote that he would love to participate, and that he wanted to have his "novia"Tatiana Parra, a great singer from Brasil, sing the part as well. Knowing her music and singing style too, I thought that this would be wonderful. How much luckier could I possibly be? And so, they sang to a rough mix, and then sent me their tracks via the wonders of the Web. Simply put, it's a great honor for me, and an extreme musical pleasure, to have their spirits present on this recording.
Like "María Mulambo" this tune is also another adventure into the world of the extended song form. I don't know that Andrés and Tati envisioned themselves as part of some 10-minute epic, with long drum and percussion solos at the end, but that's what the piece became. In truth, when I was laying out the format for the tune, I had always envisioned the ending as a long drum solo for Dennis Chambersbut, at the last moment, at the recording session, Bobby Allende suggested that the solo section might be better served if the solos alternated between Dennis; Marc and Bobby. And so, as an exercise in my newly developed flexibility as a person, I went along with this concept, and that is what you now hear.
In two distinct ways, "Influence Peddler" also features the wonderful orchestration touches by Rob Mounsey. During the percussion solos as the harmonic movement constantly shifts amidst a mysterious guajeo, I asked Rob to accentuate the movement in the lowest voice with great subtlety as the sections moved along. He did this beautifully, starting out very simply, and then adding a voice each time as the sections progressed.
In another very small but important touch, I asked Rob if he could give me some string tremolos and trills, but just over the bars during the melody section and the guitar solo where the Abmaj7#4 chord appears. In a very obscure and off-handed way, this orchestral device is actually a tribute to Michael Brecker and Joe Henderson.
I always remember that, during my earliest years here in New York, each time I played with Mike, and any major 7#4 chord would appear in any tune, we would look at one another and Mike would then launch into his various Joe Henderson tenor sax impressions, born of his immense respect for Joe's Blue Note recordings. These "impressions" never failed to make me smile and laugh. Now, when I hear these very brief Lydian moments during this tune, I get that same feeling, and that warm and familiar smile just reappears.
 When She's Not Here (Cuando Ella no Está) (Steve Khan)(7:43)
This is "the ballad" of the recording, and it is performed with the Latin bolero rhythm as its foundation. My hope was that Dennis Chambers could utilize his beautiful skills with brushes to give it a more elastic, jazzy feel. People have told me that they hear the influence of Clare Fischer in this tune, and I could not be more pleased about anything, because, if his influence is there, it was purely unconscious. To me, this means that his harmonic style has now firmly rooted itself in my being. The changes are based upon one of my favorite standards.
Once again, for whatever reason it might be, and we recorded this piece on the first day of recording, November 6th, 2010. "When She's Not Here" also captures the best of the sense of Eyewitness music-making, blended with everything that I have come to love so much about Latin music. To have written something with the specific intention that it would be a bolero is very gratifying for me.