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Steve Khan: Subtext

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Steve Khan has always been a consummate, story-telling improviser. His extensive resume and distinguished solo career spans jazz fusion, modern mainstream, and with Subtext, he delves a bit deeper into the Latin element, when looking back at his days recording and performing with former Weather Report percussionist Manolo Badrena who was a member of Khan's early 80s bands. It's a sprightly session, featuring guest appearances by trumpeter Randy Brecker, keyboardist Rob Mounsey and others of note. But the core personnel with heavyweight drummer Dennis Chambers and percussionists, Bobby Allende and Marc Quinones give Khan that added oomph amid his clever ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Steve Khan: Subtext

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Change is a fact of life, and it's something that's better to be embraced than challenged; as inevitable as death and taxes, it's one of those things that you may as well accept, because there are few, if any, options to do otherwise. That said, while the then-aptly titled Parting Shot (Tone Center, 2011) suggested that guitarist Steve Khan's days recording as a leader were over, it is, indeed, great news to find, in 2014, that he's changed his mind with the release of Subtext--though the why is not necessarily so good. But more about that later. Subtext ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Subtext

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Guitarist Steve Khan's latter day work has been increasingly focused on Latin jazz fusion of various shapes, so the scope and direction of Subtext should come as no surprise to his longtime followers. This album arrives three years after Parting Shot (Tone Center, 2011) and runs along similar lines. That one was an originals-heavy, percussively-coated session that dipped into the songbooks of Thelonious Monk ("Bye-Ya") and Ornette Coleman ("Blues Connotation" and “Chronology"); this one is a mostly covers companion piece that also touches on the work of those same iconic artists. On Subtext, fronting a percussion-heavy quintet, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Parting Shot

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It's tough for artists to remain viable in a fast-paced environment in which hype is focused on the latest flavor of the week or whatever technology and media is creating a buzz. As usual, jazz gets caught in the flux, but guitarist Steve Khan continues to demonstrate that it's not just about the technology or complexity, but the music and who's playing it. Off the heels of the superb live recording The Suitcase (Tone Center, 2008), Khan continues his love affair with Latin music in Parting Shot . A reunion of consummate musician friends that include percussionist Manolo ...

IN THE ARTIST'S OWN WORDS

Steve Khan: The Making of "Parting Shot"

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The term, “parting shot" can certainly be interpreted in any number of ways. Perhaps for most of us, it would be best defined like this: “a threat, insult, condemnation, sarcastic retort, or, gesture delivered while departing." I choose to view it as the latter, thinking of a light punch to the shoulder as the final gesture! This interpretation led me to invent my own Spanish title: “Golpe de partida." I think that someone else would have chosen, “La última palabra"--the last word--as the title in Spanish. But, for me, that just did not have the right “ring" to it.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Parting Shot

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Evolution is one of those things where an artist either gradually shifts direction, or makes sudden quantum leaps. Guitarist Steve Khan has done both in a career dating back four decades, and the first of three hot fusion records for Columbia as a leader, Tightrope (1977), that fit firmly in The Brecker Brothers camp, but, with an in-your-face guitar presence that ran the occasional risk of over-dominance. Khan had a clear epiphany with Evidence (Arista, 1980), an overlooked gem interpreting the music of Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul and others in a largely acoustic environs, but with an array ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: The Suitcase

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Steve Khan's been on the comeback trail with the fine The Green Field (Tone Center, 2006)--his first as a leader in nine years--and even more impressive Borrowed Time (Tone Center, 2007), so keeping up the momentum is a very good thing. While not a new recording, The Suitcase captures the guitarist in performance with one of his hottest trios ever--contrabassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Dennis Chambers. Recorded in Köln, Germany in 1994, the two-disc set represents a comprehensive cross-section of material beginning with the guitarist's watershed Eyewitness (Antilles, 1981) through to Crossings (Verve Forecast, 1994). Opening with an ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Steve Khan: The Suitcase

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Steve Khan The Suitcase Tone Center 2008 In the annals of rediscovered live jazz recordings, The Suitcase, by guitarist Steve Khan, ranks among the best in recent memory. Nothing is quite like the experience of live jazz, but this 1994 performance at the Stadtgarten Club in Koln, Germany, is the next best thing to having been there. The format is simple; as Khan modestly states, “It is an evening of trio music and trio music making." But there's nothing simple about the tremendous display of musicianship, energy and spontaneity that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Borrowed Time

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To say that Steve Khan has been around would be an understatement. He's got more than twenty CDs as a bandleader or co-leader. And he's appeared as a studio guest on numerous releases by other artists, including Maynard Ferguson and Steely Dan. For the latter, Khan performed the brilliant closing solo on “Glamour Profession, from Gaucho (MCA, 1980). He's also worked with Rob Mounsey, The Brecker Brothers and Joe Zawinul. Among his honors, Khan was named among the twenty-two All-Time Greatest Jazz Guitarists by Japan's Jazz Life magazine, a listing that included George Benson, Larry Coryell, Django ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Borrowed Time

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Time is elusive--passing slowly in a given moment or as fleeting as a precious memory. Between recordings, it had been almost ten years since guitarist Steve Khan released his acclaimed comeback CD The Green Field (Tone Center, 2006). Thankfully it didn't take another ten years to release Borrowed Time. From the cover art by Jean-Michel Folon to Khan's unmistakable style; in many ways, this release is about both remembrance and discovery. You'll either remember some of his inspiring music from the past; discover new sounds, or both. In retrospect, his early recordings, including the Eyewitness group releases, ...

Steve Khan: Reflections on the Making of "Borrowed Time"

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[Editor's Note: With the critical acclaim for Steve Khan's first album as a leader in ten years, The Green Field (Tone Center, 2006), hopes were high that another decade wouldn't have to pass before the guitarist moved forward with another project. With the release of Borrowed Time (Tone Center, 2007), Khan leverages on the successes of The Green Field with an album that's more ambitious in scope. Alongside the returning core trio featuring bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jack DeJohnette, a host of guests--including five percussionists, flugelhorn, bass clarinet, keyboards and vocals--expand the sonic groundwork of The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Borrowed Time

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Steve Khan's first record in nine years, The Green Field (Tone Center, 2006) was splendid, and represented an impressive combination of some of the guitarist's freest playing to date alongside the compelling Afro-Cuban grooves that have inspired him for years. Borrowed Time is even more ambitious, utilizing a larger cast and more expansive textures.

From the opening moments of the Thelonious Monk/Coleman Hawkins classic “I Mean You," Khan's astute interpretive approach is crystal clear. Mixing 4/4 swing with an Afro-Cuban 6/8, what's most remarkable is how drummer Jack DeJohnette (back, with bassist John Patitucci, from The Green Field on six ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: The Green Field

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Fusion, pop, jazz, rock, straight ahead. It doesn't seem to matter where the music goes. Steve Khan's been there, quite often traveling with some heavy hitters. Bob James, Maynard Ferguson, Steely Dan, Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and the Brecker Brothers are just a few of the powerhouses with whom Khan has recorded or toured over his career. His skills are so well-honed that he's drawn comparisons to some of jazz's great guitarists, including Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Larry Coryell, Pat Metheny and Django Reinhardt. The Green Field, Khan's first release as a leader in nine ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Khan: Got My Mental

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The great thing about the ECM label is that it never deletes a title, which means that new fans of legacy artists like pianist Keith Jarrett can go back and explore their artistic development. Sadly that's rarely possible with most labels, and it's becoming even more challenging when an artist's career spans several, as is the case with guitarist Steve Khan.

The fact that the lion's share of Khan's discography as a leader is out of print is unfortunate. His evolution from '70s fusioneer to a less-is-more player with his Afro-Cuban-informed Eyewitness band in the '80s and an astute interpreter ...



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