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Steve Khan: The Making of "Parting Shot"

Steve Khan By

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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.

For all I know, this recording could well be my own parting shot. I can't really envision a way that I would be able to again produce such a recording, just as I had to do for The Green Field (2005) and Borrowed Time (2007). After the latter recording, The Suitcase (2008) came along as a bit of a miracle, it only served as a distraction from having to think about my musical future. For the first time in as long as I can remember, when Borrowed Time concluded I really did not have a clear vision of what was to be next. In the past, even while completing a recording project, I had always seen what was coming. To now have that vision be completely vacant seemed so strange to me. And time kept passing, and passing, and passing, and nothing changed. I had no new music, and really wasn't thinking about other music to interpret. In short, I was lost, and suddenly, it was 2010.

And then, on a day like so many others, an email arrived via the Contact Steve page from my website. It was from an old love of mine, one from the distant past, and thus began a series of inspired communications, exchanges about our lives, philosophy, and somehow, her enthusiasm and positive energy served to motivate me to see a direction, and to attack going after it. I realized that the one area of the jazz idiom where I am all by myself, as a guitarist, is the sub-genre of Latin Jazz. None of my esteemed colleagues are involved in this area. And so, I began to assemble music, and compose new music with this in mind. It wasn't long before I was sitting here with 9 pieces of music ready to go.

As you will read, two older tunes came back to me, and they were soon included. Ironically, there actually was a title tune, "Parting Shot" but I was never able to record it, because we got way behind schedule on the first day of recording, and I knew that I was going to have to let one tune go. I had hoped to record five tunes the first day, and six on the second. But, we only got four done on the first day due to some technical issues at the studio. So, that night, at home, with Dennis Chambers here with me, we talked, and I told him that I was just going to let "Parting Shot" go. And that was that!

Some of you have already commented to me: "Steve, why no cover art by Jean-Michel Folon this time?" Obviously, my love for Folon's work is unchanged, but I have always wanted to have a cover image by Michel Granger, whom I discovered at around the same time, during the mid-'70s. His work, like Folon's has always had a great social conscience, a global perspective, and I thought that Granger's allusions to the fragile condition of our planet might represent a "parting shot" from the earth to all of us as its inhabitants. So, I chose one image for the USA/European releases, and another image for the Japanese release.

In my liner notes, I wrote about the fact that, it seems that most average music listeners are not capable of listening to too much cowbell. Why that is, I'm just not certain. But, for me, I'm really thrilled to now be able to present this collection of songs to you all with my fantastic band mates: Anthony Jackson, Dennis Chambers, Manolo Badrena, and Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende.

And so, here are my Personal Reflections for this recording:


[1] Chronology (Ornette Coleman)(4:17)

Reflecting back to my college years at U.C.L.A., between '65-'69, the period of greatest discovery for me, I was buying LPs at an alarming rate ($2 per LP), and trying to digest and assimilate everything that I had heard. After having stumbled upon the music of Ornette Coleman and, soon after, falling in love with his tune, "Blues Connotation," I tried to buy every other LP that I could find. One of those new LPs for me was, The Shape of Jazz to Come(Atlantic), which had been recorded on May 22nd, 1959. Obviously, "Chronology" was recorded well before "Blues Connotation."

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