There are songs that just knock you out of your skull, that will not let you rest until laying hands on them. I have a history with that phenomenon. When Barclay James Harvest's Dark Now my Skies came out in the late 60s, I could barely contain myself until 10-speeding 35 miles round trip to the Tower record shop in Hollywood, grabbing the LP there because no local slab-seller was carrying the release. Same with Climax Blues Band's Reap What I've Sowed, Wishbone Ash's Blind Eye, and a whole raft of great music, usually guitar-dominated, wafting over the radio waves. After X amount of years indulging this kind of behavior, I thought I was done with my personal OCD…until one day, driving home from work, someone, I think it was Chuck Niles, played Steve Khan's Where's Mumphrey?, and I turned my van around and headed straight for the record shop. I'd always dug Khan through his infinite sit-ins in rock and jazz (and his work with Coryell and such), but Eyewitness, the LP with Mumphrey, spelled a whole new sub-chapter in fusion, and Khan's been hard at it since that day, Parting Shot his latest.
Steve displayed a love for the rhythms of the south—in this case the deep deep deeeeeep south way below the Rio Grande—far ahead of the current very rewarding surge of interest in days of olde (Kenton, for instance, had much tumbled to the vibe, then the CTI label, with a slew of greats following behind) but, ever the fusioneer, Khan addresses his affinity with a liquid artistry that is personal and highly specialized. That was what caught me in Mumphrey. As a part of a sacred inner group comprised of Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Jeff Baxter, and a few others whose names are still bywords for unassailable excellence in the studio and out, whatever Khan (son, by the way, of the great Sammy Cahn) took on, he brought a special gift to. That effect, of course decatupled in his solo labors.
As a session giant, he also knew nonpareils when he came across them and thus always recruited a backing band worthy of enshrinement. In that, long-timers Anthony Jackson (bass) and Manolo Badrena (percussion) have been staples, here joined by Dennis Chambers (drums), Marc Quinones (perc.) and Bobby Allende (perc.) with Rob Mounsey, a periodic confederate, orchestrating and guesting on keyboards. You'll note the profusion of percussion in all that, a very key element in *Parting Shot*, so rich and aromatic is the sound, teeming with friendly night jungles, starry skies, and exotic flora and fauna from the tropics. Khan's lines are simultaneously sinuous and stunningly abstract right out of the gate, Chronology commencing in a rich and complex statement letting into unending variations upon theme, melody, and modality. That, you'll quickly find, is his home and repeats without end through the entire disc, a wont placing him squarely with Grant Green, John Abercrombie, Pat Martino, and the best of the inventive best. When not scribing his own work, the guy turns to cats like Ornette Coleman (who penned Chronolgy) and Thelonius Monk for inspiration, wringing the sort of interpretations that'll have the revered gents smiling in the Great Beyond.
Longtime fans will note the break of tradition in that this CD doesn't boast the previously established carrying of a cover by the great fantasist Jean-Michel Folon, who sadly passed away in 2005. Folon adored Khan's music and created works to accompany his releases, a partnership so rarely echoed elsewhere, Yes and Roger Dean being one of the most well-known examples. The new CD's liner by Michel Granger is almost a direct contrast to Folon's serendipitous often light-filled scenarios, here dark and moody, but, oddly enough, an even more perfect evocation of one of the many diurnal hearts of Khan's work than Folon achieved. Turns out that Steve has been a fan of Granger for quite some time and, eternally attentive to every least aspect of what he creates so brilliantly, wasted no time importing the painter into his lushly atmospheric milieu.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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