Steve Khan's "Butane Elvin" Lead sheet
As is obvious from the title, this tune, which appears on the "PUBLIC ACCESS"(GRP) CD from '89, was meant to be my tribute to the great drummer, Elvin Jones. This recording which was the fourth in a series of CDs with Eyewitness brought me back together with bandmates Anthony Jackson and Manolo Badrena, and as I explained in the analysis to "Blue Zone 41," we were able to have the brilliant drummer, Dave Weckl join us. As a writer, I wanted to capture, all or in part, the two jazz grooves, played in two tempos, which I associate with Elvin. One is in the 'slow' area of jazz tempos, where the beautiful 'noise' created by the rivets in his ride cymbal keep any tune in motion. The 2nd tempo, in double-time, is also handled by Elvin with the help of that same 'noise' from the rivets. This sound seems to keep his big rolling loops of rhythm feeling as though you are always being propelled forwards.
So, at [I] we begin in the slower tempo with the guitar playing McCoy Tyner-like chordal punctuations, and Anthony and Dave are free to wander, prowl and bash as they will. When we move to the 2nd ending, Dave gives us a 2-bar double-time set-up and we begin [A1]. This tune was also written with the knowledge that I would have all 6-strings of Anthony's contrabass guitar at my disposal, and for this head, he would need them, because the first time through, we play the melody in unison. On the repeat, [A2], Anthony walks through the changes until we arrive at the end of bar 12 where he again joins me in unison. As we make it to the 2nd ending, we have to negotiate another tricky tempo change, and return to the slower tempo. All of these tempo changes were made so much easier by Dave Weckl's wonderful drum set-ups. And, I would hasten to add that this was one of the few recordings I've ever done, as a leader, where we had sufficient time to rehearse, and for a tune such as this, it was welcomed. We were prepared to record!
The solo section at [B] mirrors the tune itself by beginning with 8 bars at the slower tempo. Once that has been played, there is a 2-bar drum set-up and off we go into [B2] for a double-time "time, no changes" section which is essentially centered around A7. During such a solo section, what I always try to do is to utilize portions of melodic material to base the solo on. So, you will hear lots of allusions to the little phrase between the end of bar 2 through bar 4. At one point, I even engaged my KORG DVP-1 harmonizer(3:18-3:26 on the track) to give the impression that a horn section was answering my own phrase. For that sound, you would set your own harmonizer in the following way: [-4] [-6] [-9]. Again this is a dominant 7th type voicing with the 3rd on top. And the 'trick' to it all is that my guitar is actually playing the top voice and everything is harmonized below it!!! This was also explained in the analysis to "Blue Zone 41." Throughout this particular solo, you can hear the 4-way interplay which includes the unique sounds and textures of Manolo. At one point, I tried, rather hopelessly, to imitate(2:47-2:53 on the track) one his 'bird' sounds. Every time I hear this now, I can't help but laugh a little.
While still soloing, I was able to cue Dave Weckl, and we moved back into the slower tempo which reprises [B] and eventually sends us into a fantastic, if brief, exploration by Anthony Jackson, featuring the chordal possibilities of his contrabass guitar for 16-bars. He brings us back to the cue section, [B3] on Pg. 3 where we go back to [A2] and restate the head one last time, only here we take the Coda. For the little [Tag] we are gracefully led into the last bar of 1/2 time by Dave Weckl's great set-up.
So why is the word "butane" a part of this title. Well, I have to admit that it comes from engineer, and one of my best friends, Malcolm Pollack's tongue-in-cheek usage of this word as a form of saying, "O.K.!", "cool", "smokin'", "slammin'", "out o' sight", "boss", "twitchin'", "bitchin'", "great", "right on", "fantastic", or even, "most excellent!" He told me that he once heard another engineer, or assistant say it. Anyway, it's so stupid that it just stayed with me, and so, I stuck it in front of this title.
From KHAN'S KORNER, Blaine and I are hoping that everyone had a wonderful summer(despite our recent "BLACKOUT"), and, that as people return from their vacations to life, as it 'normally' is, let's continue to try to somehow make this a better world. A little effort, one kind gesture to someone, each and every day, and maybe, just maybe, something, somewhere will improve for the better. We can only hope! Be happy, be safe, and be well!!!
[Artwork: Andy Zielinsky(Lake Orion, Michigan).
His interpretation of the "PUBLIC
ACCESS" cover. This was all done through a long-time website supporter, Claude
Carlson. We remain grateful for everyone's kind participation in the site.