Steve Khan: The Making of "Parting Shot"
As you will hear, the F7 pedal section becomes a magical Manolo Badrena moment, and here he presents his vision of just what kind of pictures a great percussionist can paint with his imagination. In the end, it is one of my favorite moments on the recording, because it is so uniquely Manolo. I am going to hope that it becomes something special for you as well.
Like, "Los Gaiteros," this tune was originally composed for, what would have been, my third CD with the Caribbean Jazz Project which, again, featured Dave Samuels and Dave Valentín. In all, I had written four new tunes for the group, and two of them, "El Faquir" and "Face Value" were finally recorded in 2007 for my Borrowed Time CD. With the Latin feeling being a part of each and every tune on Parting Shot," I knew that this would be my one and only chance to interpret this piece in my own way.
Because of the presence of both vibes and flute in the CJP, I had written a melody in a completely different style. So, for this recording, I put that [A] section melody aside, and wrote something much more guitar-oriented, and more blues-oriented. The main mood and attitude is set by a "groove" and "feel" that I had been exploring at home on my acoustic steel-string guitar, and eventually, I brought it in to Rob Mounsey to see what we could do with it around the time, when we were assembling music for You Are Here, in 1998. That original jam/demo helped to form the basis of what you now hear. When I composed the original version of this tune, I made a demo in Caracas, Venezuela with the help of my dear friend, and master musician, Rafael Greco. We had such a great time doing the demos of the four tunes for the CJPand we laughed like crazy as we inserted our own "fantasy timbale" fills in various spots.
Firstly, there is no such place as "Zancudoville"I did not even know what a "zancudo" was until I arrived in Caracas, Venezuela in 1999. After nearly being eaten alive, I learned that a zancudo is no more, no less than a mosquito. In truth, in my view, the areas of Caracas closest to its guardian landmark, the gorgeous mountain, known as "El Ávila" are places with high zancudo populations. For me, the only way to save myself was with a long-sleeve shirt or a jacket, and when trying to sleep having a huge supply of candles that are scented to keep those damn things away from me! Otherwise, I might as well have had a sign across my forehead that read: "Open For Lunch."
During the preparation phase of this recording, I was asked if I had any tunes laying around that might be suitable for guitarist Bernie Williams, and so, I sent him the original demo for "Zancudoville." When I listened to it again, I said to myself: "Steve, you know, this tune is really too good to not record it yourselfand this is going to be your best chance to do it right." So, armed with the new [A] melody, I decided that the best way to record the tune, and to be able to play it live with the right feeling and atmosphere, would be to prerecord my acoustic guitar, which is also essential to the feel and attitude, alongside Rob's beautiful Rhodes sound. We did that, leaving lots of room for soloing live. The final touch was to play the güiro part myselfalways a thrilling moment for me.
During the rehearsals, I spoke with Manolo about the kind of atmosphere that I hoped that he could create for the piece. And, as you can hear, he did just thatlots of swampy, jungle, mosquito-infested sounds. I also asked him to use his fantastic speaking voice to "whisper to" the zancudos, and to tell them to "stop bothering me"that "I see you, I see youthat they are "very annoying," and last, but not least, "catch me if you can!"
While assembling the music for this recording, of course, I knew that somewhere on some of the songs, Manolo Badrena would sing the various vocalese sections. But, my other dream or fantasy for the recording was to see if I could somehow get Gracinha Leporace, Sergio Méndes' wife and the main voice of all of his recordings, to sing on some of the pieces. She is capable of so much more than just the usual breathy singing style associated with most Brazilian female singers. And so, I tried with all my powers of persuasion and begging through my good friend Mike Shapiro, who plays drums with Sergio, to see if Gracinha would be willing to sing on something. In the end, all my efforts failed. Monstrous bummer!!!