Steve Khan: SubtextBy
On Subtext, fronting a percussion-heavy quintet, Khan refashions some classics, unearths some rarely covered gems, and delivers a trio of originals that fit nicely into the mix. Khan works with a highly capable crewdrummer Dennis Chambers, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, and percussionists Bobby Allende and Marc Quinones. Together, these men could wreak havoc and set four-alarm fires, but the guitarist mostly holds everybody in check, preferring to create a rhythmic mesh instead of a blazing inferno.
That quintet defines the sound of the record, but several guests drop in to add their two cents. Trumpeter Randy Brecker wields his flugelhorn on Coleman's "Bird Food"; Rob Mounsey provides orchestrations for a few numbers and appears twice on keyboards (the too-sleek title track and just-right, M-Base-meets-Santana rewrite of saxophonist Greg Osby's "Heard"); while accordionist Gil Goldstein and vocalist Mariana Ingold appear on "Cada Gota De Mar," a number influenced by Colombian Vallenato music co-written by the vocalist and Khan.
The remaining tracks all find Khan in fine form. He cooks on Freddie Hubbard's infrequently explored "Baraka Sasa," delivers a spicy songo-influenced take on Monk's "Hackensack," imagines "Never Let Me Go" as a relaxed-and-moody bolero, turns Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes" into a 6/8 Afro-Cuban vehicle, and closes out the program with the simmering cha-cha original, "Bait And Switch."
Subtext is a pleasing, low-flame Latin outing delivered by some of the best in the business. It's occasionally wanting for a bit more bite and flight, but the balance of restraint and strength demonstrated has always been a Khan calling card; his desire to flow rather than fly has often kept him under the radar with the public, though most musicians know the score when it come to this venerable guitarist: Khan kills in his own special way.
Bird Food; Blue Subtext; Baraka Sasa; Infant Eyes; Heard; Never Let Me Go; Cada Gota de Mar; Hackensack; Bait and Switch.
Steve Khan: guitar, voice (9); Rubén Rodriguez: electric bass, baby bass; Dennis Chambers: drums; Marc Quiñones: timbal, bongo, percussion; Bobby Allende: conga, bongo (1); Randy Brecker: flugelhorn (1); Rob Mounsey: keyboards (2, 5), orchestrations (3, 4, 6, 7, 9), coro (7); Gil Goldstein: accordion (7); Mariana Ingold: voice (7).
Title: Subtext | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Tone Center
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About Steve Khan
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