15

Steve Khan: Backlog

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Khan: Backlog
Latin jazz has rarely featured the guitar, but that hasn't stopped Steve Khan. Backlog continues in the vein of previous albums including Parting Shot (Tone Center, 2011) and Subtext (Tone Center, 2014): creative Latin arrangements of Great American Songbook standards and modern jazz tunes that are rarely played in Latin style (or in any style, in the case of the more obscure choices). The two previous installments included a number of Khan originals, but Backlog is entirely devoted to covers.

Some are drawn from a familiar well: Khan has shown a longtime fondness for the compositions of Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman. Monk's "Criss Cross" provides the upbeat set opener. "Latin Genetics" was introduced on Coleman's In All Languages (Caravan of Dreams, 1987) and became a staple in his live performances. One of his catchiest tunes, it benefits from trumpeter Randy Brecker's guest appearance. "Invisible" dates from Coleman's first album, Something Else! (Contemporary, 1958), but Khan and guest tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer free the song from the overly literal comping on the original recording.

The classic Blue Note catalog provides another source of repertoire, and Khan's choices again are unexpected. Two come from the pen of the great vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, who surely deserves greater recognition as a composer. "Head Start" features guest vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, while "Rojo" is re-imagined with steel-string acoustic guitar. Andrew Hill's "Catta" comes from another Hutcherson album, Dialogue (Blue Note, 1965), with acoustic guitar substituting for the original's piano and Tatiana Parra's wordless vocals reminiscent of Weather Report's occasional use of the voice as an instrument.

Last but not least, there are the standards (including one modern entry). "Our Town" was co-written by Khan's father Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, and gets a dream-like treatment with orchestra, as does Johnny Mandel and Johnny Mercer's "Emily." Stevie Wonder's "Go Home" is all slinky funk and over-driven guitar—a reminder that Khan once worked with Steely Dan.

All of Khan's series of Latin albums are full of great grooves and soulful playing, but Backlog may be the best of them: a rich, varied and surprising selection of songs with enough well-chosen guest artists to keep the arrangements fresh.

Track Listing

Criss Cross; Conceptious In C; Latin Genetics; Our Town; Head Start; Rojo; Invisible; Emily; Go Home; Catta.

Personnel

Steve Khan: guitar; Rubén Rodriguez: baby bass, electric bass; Mark Walker: drums; Marx Quiñones: timbales, bongo, percussion; Bobby Allende: conga, bongo; Randy Brecker: trumpet (3); Bob Mintzer: tenor sax (7); Mike Mainieri: vibes (5); Rob Mounsey: keyboards (2, 6, 7, 9) orchestrations; Tatiana Parra: voice (10).

Album information

Title: Backlog | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: ESC Records

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
Ikue Mori / Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura
Read Time OutTakes
Time OutTakes
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Read In Baltimore
In Baltimore
The George Coleman Quintet

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.