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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 reformulations of modern jazz standards.
Khan's liberating rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack," sheds a markedly inventive spin on the roads exhaustively travelled by other jazz artists over the years. Simply put, it's not more of the same. Khan fuses Wes Montgomery's chord voicings atop a bulging, medium tempo Latin jazz romp. True to form, his animated and curvaceous single note lines counterbalance the bubbly pulse, where the rhythm section seems on the verge of bursting at the seams.
The guitarist bends his strings to generate a little emphasis on the primary motif and tosses in a few off-kilter contrasts, as he pitches an alternating viewpoint. And the rhythm section enacts an oscillating jamboree during the bridge as Khan comps with a two-chord vamp, segueing to an understated melody line towards closeout. Consequently, Khan's artistry and acute vision convey a touch of class that underscores the heart of matters.
Personnel: Steve Khan: guitar; Ruben Rodriguez: electric bass, baby bass; Dennis
Chambers;drums; Marc Quinones: timbal, bongo, percussion; Bobby Allende:
conga, bongo (1);Randy Brecker: flugelhorn (1); Rob Mounsey: keyboards
(2, 5); orchestrations (3, 4, 6,7), coro (7); Gil Goldstein: accordion
(7); Mariana Ingold: vocals (7).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.