- "SUBTEXT" was released on June 24th in the USA and Europe, and, its release in Japan took place on May 21st, 2014. Now, the first reviews have been published. Hopefully, this augers well for good things to come. But, let's wait and see.
- But, before we get the reviews, please make certain that you read STEVE'S PERSONAL REFLECTIONS on all the tunes from "SUBTEXT."
- Here is the most extensive interview that I have done in years, or it's certainly the only one that I can recall where the entire conversation has been shared in print. My most sincere thanks to Adam St. James and everyone at Guitar.com for affording me this kind of open-ended forum. Adam did a spectacular job transcribing a phone conversation that lasted longer than an hour!!! I hope that everyone who takes the time to read it will enjoy it.
- The first of the critiques that came in was a stupendously thorough and intelligent REVIEW of the new CD, by allaboutjazz.com's senior writer, John Kelman. As always, the support from this great website and Jazz resource is so greatly appreciated.
As 2014 came to a close, John Kelman selected "SUBTEXT" as one of the BEST RELEASES OF 2014. Obviously, a great honor to placed in such excellent company!!! Thanks, John!!!
- Now that I have learned that allaboutjazz.com offers reviews of individual tracks from albums, I was excited to read this a great review of "Baraka Sasa" written by Mark F. Turner.
From his obscure gems on Columbia Records - Tightrope (1977), The Blue Man (1978) and Arrows (1979), or the critically acclaimed 1980s Eyewitness recordings, to 2011's Latin-tinged Parting Shot (Tone Center), jazz guitarist Steve Khan continues to deliver his unique artistry - exquisite touch, expressive solos, and warm tonality - that's made his music identifiable. Subtext finds that mastery still intact with a renewed mix of originals and covers.
In addition to Khan's musicianship, he's always been a great interpreter of standards, giving his own personality and insights to Thelonious Monk's music with 6 string acoustic guitar in 1981's Evidence, and the swinging percussion remake of Wayne Shorter's "Paraphernalia" in 1997's Got My Mental (ESC). One of his reworks in Subtext is the cover of Freddie Hubbard's "Baraka Sasa" (Swahili for "blessings now") from the trumpeter's 1974 release High Energy (Columbia).
What was true in 1974 holds true with Khan's rendition: this is unadulterated dance music. Where Hubbard's original painted the dance floor with electric funk in the vein of Herbie Hancock's iconic Headhunters) complete with, Sci-Fi sound effects, and his honey-toned trumpet; Khan's love for Latin music transforms the tune into a percussive party incorporated with Orisha rhythms in the intro, a variation on a Mambo rhythm in the body, and Charanga, as Khan states, "thrown in for good measure."
Its tight groove is expertly provided by percussionist Marc Quiñones drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Rubén Rodríguez. While the percussion and rhythm section drive the track, Khan's soloing, chording, and colorizations provide the melodic pocket. The guitarist masterful accompaniment near the end where the music hits the sweet spot; that in-the-pocket goodness that beckons you to press the repeat button and get on your feet and move. - Mark F. Turner
- I didn't even realize that allaboutjazz.com offered reviews of individual tracks from albums, so I was really pleased to read this wonderful review of "Hackensack" written by Glenn Astarita.
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 Quiñones 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. - Glenn Astarita
- Another review was penned by Dan Bilawsky of the new CD, also via allaboutjazz.com
- From the November, 2014 issue of Down Beat magazine, in their PLAYERS column, we have Ken Micallef's wonderful piece on Steve and the new CD, "SUBTEXT."
- From the October, 2014 issue of "The Absolute Sound" magazine we find Bill Milkowski's great review of "SUBTEXT."
Veteran guitarist Khan hinted at this Afro-Caribbean direction on his previous outing, 2011's Parting Shot, as well as some of his past Eyewtiness recordings from the '80s. With Dennis Chambers on drums, Rubén Rodríguez on electric and baby bass, Allman Brothers and Spyro Gyra percussionist Marc Quiñones and conguero Bobby Allende, Khan puts a Latin-flavored spin on Ornette Coleman's "Bird Food" (featuring a guest appearance by Randy Brecker on flügelhorn) and Freddie Hubbard's boppish "Baraka Sasa," along with clave-fueled readings of Wayne Shorter's gorgeous "Infant Eyes" and Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack." Khan and his all-star crew also turn in a dream bolero rendition of the romantic jazz ballad "Never Let Me Go" and a clever cha-cha-cha re-imagining of Greg Osby's angular M-Base-ish "Heard." The guitarist's appealing, warm-toned, fluid lines sound particularly inspired on his clave-fueled offering "Blue Subtext" and his lively and infectious "Cada Cota de Mar" (featuring Uruguayan singer, Mariana Ingold and accordionist Gil Goldstein). And, on the exhilarating Weather Report-ish finale, "Bait and Switch," Khan turns super-drummer Chambers loose at the tag to traverse the kit with polyrhythmic aplomb. A winning effort by this underrated guitarist who has consistently put out strong concept albums since the '70s! - Bill Milkowski
- Here's a great one, a wild one, from the FAME site, you can read a most interesting and informed review, written by Mark S. Tucker. This makes for really fun reading.
- On July 28th, 2014 Carol Banks Weber in her column at the examiner.com site wrote a great 5-Star REVIEW titled: "Steve Khan forges jazz subtexts" and included some wonderful quotes, such as:
Another swoon-worthy number falls in the sixth song on every sixth note of "Never Let Me Go" (Nunca me dejes ir), one of the best translations of a Spanish romance in lyrical and musical terms. It shows Khan doesn't even need a percussive lineup to get his music straight. He can turn it up all on his own, able to extend his exquisite touch on a ballad that might otherwise have been forgotten. Khan pores through the vastness on his strings taking all the time in the world, like a lover, stopping at various points to pluck out a few urgent, intense revelations.
On Subtext, Steve Khan exercises his endless curiosity and staying power as a guitarist, arranger, and lover of Latin, percussively driven music. He does so incrementally as the mood hits him, translating his own inspired fancies, track after track.
- Here's a really great review from the August edition of CD HotList written by Rick Anderson.
A new Steve Khan album is always a special occasion, and this one is a particular joy. Here the guitarist is joined by his longtime drummer Dennis Chambers, along with percussionists Marc Quiñones & Bobby Allende, and bassist Rubén Rodríguez, and a rotating cast of guest players including pianist/orchestrator Rob Mounsey. As you might guess, the overall flavor here is overwhelmingly Latin, though it's Khan's particular, personal take on Latin rhythms and inflections. The playing is all absolutely brilliant, as is the arranging - and I was particularly knocked out by Khan's elegant and complex Latin take on Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack." I've always loved the way Khan plays Monk, and he really outdid himself here. A must for all jazz collections. - Rick Anderson
- And now, an enthusiastic review by George W. Harris appearing in the August 28th, 2014 edition of Jazz Weekly.
Guitarist Steve Khan leads a sizzling team of Rubén Rodríguez/bass, Dennis Chambers/drums, Marc Quiñones/timbal, and Bobby Allende/conga through some Latinized takes of post bop tunes. as well as his own wonderful compositions. With guest Randy Brecker on flügelhorn, the band grooves on a fluid reading of Ornette Coleman's "Bird Food" while Rob Mounsey's keyboards provide red meat for Khan's fluid soloing on "Blue Subtext" and the spicy salsa-ed "Heard." Some rich and luscious orchestrations frame Khan's energetic pickings on the bopping take of Freddie Hubbard's "Baraka Sasa" and the expressive reading of Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes." A festive "Cada Gota De Mar" mixes Khan's clean lines with Gil Goldstein's accordion, some hip coro and Mariana Ingold's ethereal voice. Just as invigorating is a celebrative reading of Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack" leading to a sensuous "Bait and Switch" that closes the enticing album with confidence and style. Lots to love here!!!
- From the land of bizarro-world , George W. Harris actually reviewed "SUBTEXT" a 2nd time!!! This time in the October 6th, 2014 edition of Jazz Weekly.
The subtext of guitarist Steve Khan's latest release is stated to be in "azul," or blue, but by the sounds of the music here, real subtitle is "salsa." The team of Khan with Rubén Rodríguez/bass, Dennis Chambers/drums, Marc Quiñones/timbal, and Bobby Allende/conga put simmering caliente flavors on bop pieces like Monk's "Hackensack," Freddie Hubbard's "Baraka Sasa" and Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes" that mix Khan's flawless yet emotional picking with sizzling rhythms, and even a dash of orchestration on a number of the tunes. Who'd think that Ornette Coleman could get you on the dance floor with a partner? Well, with guest Randy Brecker's flügelhorn, "Bird Food" is turned into a Latin lover. The pop ballad "Never Let Me Go" has a gentle steam coming off the plate, and Khan's own "Bait and Switch" closes the session with a sensuous saunter. Lots to linger with here.
- From the U.K., we have another terrific review from DRUMMER MAGAZINE which focuses on the melodic aspects of "SUBTEXT"
Guitarist Steve Khan has a great ear for melody, whether penning them, selecting them or soloing, and "SUBTEXT" contains 9 killer latin tracks brimming with melodic and rhythmic content. Khan's choice of material includes Ornette Coleman's Bird Food (featuring Randy Brecker), a fantastic loping 6/8 take on Wayne Shorter's Infant Eyes and a latin transformation of Freddie Hubbard's Baraka Sasa, while his self-penned Blue Subtext features another seriously loping latin groove and superb melody. The percussion triumvirate of Marc Quiñones, Bobby Allende and Dennis Chambers complement and support perfectly, while the album mix is near perfection. The subtext is 'buy it now.' - Brent Keefe
- We were sent an advance copy of Pete Prown's "SUBTEXT" review that appears in the HIT LIST section of the October issue of "VINTAGE GUITAR magazine."
After a career of close to 40 years, Steve Khan now delivers Subtext, a mesmerizing Latin-jazz offering. But don't assume that this is just another retro-Bossa album. The compositions, chord work, and improvisations speak to the dark, complex sounds of jazz rock, a perfect starting point for Khan's exploratory solos.
Unlike the dirty tones of his late '70s work, Khan deploys a fat, clean sound here. You also can't help but make the association between this music and the explosion of Latin-jazz music during Khan's student days in the 1960s - think of period guitar wizards like Charlie Byrd, Gabor Szabo, Bola Sete, mixed with Pat Martino and Larry Coryell, who we can safely assume were influences on the young guitarist.
To get us in the Latin mood, Khan brings in several percussion stars, monster drummer Dennis Chambers and, on the terrific opening track "Bird Food," trumpet genius Randy Brecker.
As for the guitarist, it's great to listen to a real wizard at work, both paying homage to the old archtop masters with the sweet tone, but keeping it fully modern on his Gibson 335 semi-hollowbody, with an occasional orchestral touch from his ESP Strat solidbody.
The New York City guitarist's single-note choices are angular but alluring, while his improvised chord comping is dazzling. Best track: "Heard" a jazz-fusion stomper with Rob Mounsey's sinister synth and more post-fusion magic from Mr. Khan.
- Ya tenemos otra buena ENTREVISTA! Y por supuesto, ¡En ESPAÑOL! Escrito por el gran periodista de Jazz, Ragui Vega Curry, en "EL NUEVO DÍA" desde La Isla del Encanto, Puerto Rico. ¡Vaya!
For those of you who would like to read the INTERVIEW in English, just follow the link and scroll down to the middle of the page.
- From the pages of LATIN JAZZ NETWORK, we have Raúl da Gama's extraordinarily thorough review of "SUBTEXT." The review appeared on August 18th, 2014.
Steve Khan has never been a shy guitarist, but in the commercial world, he appears a bit diffident. This is probably why he makes one album a year, or maybe one album sometimes every two or three years. But, judging by the work on each, he is a perfectionist. Consider Subtext which features not only exquisite repertory, but magnificent craftsmanship on each of the songs. His playing is of a remarkable gliding kind. Notes seem to roll off his strings in phrases that form wide arcs that carve the air with magnificent motifs, and incredibly beautiful melisma. Mr. Khan probably sees curving geometric architecture in all of his music. Thus his songs are edifices that seem to be constructed by twisting and curvy lines, ultimately forming magnificent structures in the air around the room in which his music is being played. It seems that he can do this alone, without the aid of any other musician. Happily, though, he has resisted the temptation to perform in such a manner as to relegate his extraordinary musicians and guest musicians to mere back up. In fact, as is evident on the very first chart, "Bird Food," Randy Brecker makes a superb contribution to the "harmolodic" subtext of Ornette Coleman's original song. Mr. Khan sometimes does both melody and harmony all rolled into one, and rightfully so, as his gliding style often mimics Mr. Coleman's "harmolodic" piece. And to put a further beautiful stamp on the Latin Jazz idiom, he allows the three percussion colorists to stretch magnificently as the music devolves, and is brought to a close.
Lest it appear that that chart is the only shining example of Mr. Khan's extraordinary repertoire on this album, it is time to perish the thought. He brings the music of three great and remarkable musicians into the Latin Jazz idiom. The first of these is "Baraka Sasa," written by Freddie Hubbard. Transposing this music for guitar and percussion, Mr. Khan has done yeoman's work in turning Mr. Hubbard's bebop wonder into the realm of the Latin Jazz literature. Then he (Mr. Khan) turns his attention to Wayne Shorter's classic Blue Note era composition, breathing Latin fire into it in the manner of a bright blue flame. As if this were not enough, Steve Khan turns his attention to Thelonious Monk - always a challenge to play in any idiom; more so in the Latin Jazz idiom. It is easy to be facetious when playing Mr. Monk's work, sometimes even ignoring the contribution of his doppelgänger and saxophonist, the great Charlie Rouse. And though a tenor saxophonist is absent here, Mr. Khan has made sure it is not missed (well, sort of) by cleverly fleshing out the soli and harmonies, and focussing on Thelonious Monk's lines.
Lest it be felt that Steve Khan would rely only on well-known repertoire to make his album stand out, here's one that few (even aficionados) would recognize: It is the mighty "Heard," a feature written by the dominating alto saxophonist and mBase practitioner, Greg Osby. In fact the development of the song, based on mBase principles means that it is organically developed from its core melody; something that is difficult enough to do, even without the Latin inflections and rhythms. And although the song sounds far from its original, it is nevertheless a very interesting prospect. "Cada Gota de Mar," with Mariana Ingold is superb, as is the Ray Evans and Jay Livingston ballad/bolero. But it is also Mr. Khan's beautiful songs that are star attractions. This is a wonderful album to study the work of a shy but important guitarist.
Steve Khan has been one of the best jazz guitarists around since he burst onto the scene in 1977 with his first album Tightrope. I really liked his last album Parting Shot (2011), a Latin drenched jazz record of exceptional quality. That trend of quality guitar-led jazz continues with his new record Subtext. A few of the players are back including Dennis Chambers (drums), Marc Quiñones (timbal, bongo, percussion) and Bobby Allende (conga, bongo). Rounding out the band is Rubén Rodríguez (electric and baby bass).
His Latin infused stylings continue as he covers tracks by jazz greats like Ornette Coleman, Freddie Hubbard and Thelonious Monk, as well as a few originals. The album opening "Bird Food," originally penned by Coleman, is an excellent first track with outstanding flügelhorn, courtesy of guest artist Randy Brecker. "Blue Subtext" is a fine Khan original with outstanding soloing from Khan. His chord phrasing and note choices are second to none. In the Wayne Shorter penned "Infant Eyes," the keys and guitar float like a dream, while Greg Osby's "Heard" is made all the more colourful by Rob Mounsey's outstanding keyboard work. Of course, as in all these tracks, Khan's guitar is ever present.
Subtext is, quite frankly, one of the best jazz records so far in 2014. Suffice to say, this one will be hard to top.
September 13th, 2014 - Jon Neufeld "SEA OF TRANQUILITY"
- From July 2014, we have Alex Henderson's informed review which appeared in that issue of "Jazz Inside Magazine."
Reading the list of song titles for Subtext, one immediately notices that the titles are listed in both English and Spanish. Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes" becomes "Ojos de niño," Ray Evans & Jay Livinston's "Never Let Me Go" becomes "Nunca me dejes ir" and Greg Osby's "Heard" becomes "Escuchado," while Ornette Coleman's "Bird Food" becomes "Comida para Pájaros." And there is a reason for that. Subtext finds guitarist Steve Khan continuing to explore Latin rhythms - most Latin, as in Afro-Cuban, although the veteran guitarist occasionally detours into South American territory. This early 2014 recording, for the most part, favors an instrumental blend of post-bop and Afro-Cuban jazz, with some avant-garde moves here and there. Khan shows his more abstract side on "Bird Food" (which features Randy Brecker on flügelhorn) and "Heard," but neither song becomes an exercise in atonal chaos. If Subtext is an inside/outside effort, the playing is about 90% inside, and 10% outside. And whether Khan and his colleagues are feeling inside or outside, the Latin theme asserts itself consistently.
Some guest musicians appear on Subtext, including Brecker, Rob Mounsey on keyboards and Gil Goldstein on accordion. But the album's core group is a quintet consisting of Khan on electric guitar, Rubén Rodríguez on electric and baby bass, Dennis Chambers on drums, Marc Quiñones on timbales and bongos, and Bobby Allende on congas and bongos. Quiñones and Allende are crucial to the sound of the album, bringing some Afro-Cuban appeal to everything from "Bird Food" and "Heard" to "Never Let Me Go" (which is transformed into a bolero cubano), "Infant Eyes," Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack" and Freddie Hubbard's "Baraka Sasa." Hubbard wrote his share of gems that became standards, including "Red Clay," "First Light," "Hub-Tones," "Up Jumped Spring" and "Little Sunflower." But "Baraka Sasa" (which Hubbard unveiled on his 1974 album High Energy) isn't one of his more famous songs, and Khan's decision to include it on Subtext demonstrates that he does his homework. All too often, jazz improvisers (both singers and instrumentalists) fail to do their homework when it comes to choosing material: they insist on sticking to the most beaten-to-death warhorses, so recording a worthy but lesser known song like the 40-year-old "Baraka Sasa" isn't the type of thing they would think to do. Khan, however, isn't afraid to surprise listeners by offering standards and non-standards side by side.
The least Afro-Cuban flavored song on the album is also its only vocal offering: Khan's "Cada Gota de Mar," which means "Every Drop of the Sea" in Spanish, and features Uruguayan vocalist Mariana Ingold. Easily the disc's most South American-influenced track, "Cada Gota de Mar" owes something to Brazil, and Colombia as well as Ingold's native Uruguay. Ingold performs in Spanish with an Uruguayan accent, which is quite similar to an Argentine accent - and rhythmically, there is also some Brazilian influence on "Cada Gota de Mar" even though Ingold isn't singing in Portuguese (which is the dominant language in Brazil). To make thing even more interesting, Goldstein's accordion playing on that selection hints at Colombian vallenato (not to be confused with cumbia, Colombia's most famous style of music). So, with its Brazilian, Uruguayan, and Colombian elements, "Cada Gota de Mar" is clearly a departure from the Afro-Cuban mambo, cha-cha-cha or bolero cubano influence one finds on the other parts of the album. But it fits in nicely with the overall Latin theme. Latin music, after all, isn't just Afro-Cuban salsa - it is also, as Khan demonstrates, everything from Brazilian and Uruguayan music to vallenato.
Khan's interest in Latin music is a positive thing, and it serves him well throughout Subtext!
- From Miami, I was sent a link to Jesús Vega's review, also in Spanish, of course, which appeared in the June, 21st 2014 edition, Artes y Letras section of "El Nuevo Herald." So, for all our Spanish speaking visitors, we are now sharing this with you.
En este disco, que sigue a su exitoso Parting Shot, el guitarrista y compositor de jazz Steve Khan prosigue su exploración de las tradiciones de la música hispana, y patentiza su pasión por algunos compositores y artistas favoritos cuyas obras ha interpretado anteriormente: Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter y Thelonious Monk. Destacan además su arreglo de la cumbia "Cada gota de mar," con la cantante Mariana Ingold, y la luminosa balada "Never Let Me Go." Esta vez lo acompañan Rubén Rodríguez, Dennis Chambers, Marc Quiñones y Bobby Allende; y Randy Brecker, Rob Mounsey y Gil Goldstein como artistas invitados.
- Brand new, we find Ángel Romero's review that appears in the July 15th edition of "Progressive Rock Central." He titles this review by stating: "Steve Khan Delivers Superb Latin Jazz-Infused Album" and the review concludes with the following phrase: "Subtext is another superb Latin Jazz-infused album by Steve Khan, one of the most creative guitarists in the American jazz scene." One can't ask for much more than that!!! Mil gracias Ángel!!!
- We just received Paula Edelstein's terrific "SUBTEXT" review that now appears in the June issue of the "Sounds of Timeless Jazz" website
On Subtext, guitarist Steve Khan joins again with long-time collaborator drummer Dennis Chambers and his all-star Latin team of Marc Quiñones, Bobby Allende and Rubén Rodríguez - all of whom Khan has known and performed with since the 1990s. But this is the first time these musicians have individually performed on Steve Khan's recordings, and this meeting of their musical minds is absolutely great. Guest performances by Randy Brecker, Rob Mounsey, Gil Goldstein and Mariana Ingold add to Khan's exceptional musical visions. The ensemble explores the compositions of such great jazzmen as Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Greg Osby and Thelonious Monk, and tosses in a few of his own originals to complete this brilliant gem.
Opening with Ornette Coleman's "Bird Food," the free bop tune that features Randy Brecker on flugelhorn, for over 9 minutes Khan honors Coleman's wily tune with full-fledged exuberance. The brilliantly arranged Freddie Hubbard "Baraka Sasa" is even more exciting, because of the rollicking salsa rhythms. The next musical phase Khan explores is Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes." He conceptualizes this great song in an Afro-Cuban 6/8 groove. It's both romantic and beautiful as is the ballad "Never Let Me Go" which begins with an intimate whisper, and then surges into an outpouring of emotion. Such a relief to hear this song done in such a beautiful arrangement for guitar. Overall, Steve Khan has hit the jackpot with this great recording, and it is one that should be in your jazz collection. So check it out, and then buy Subtext from the SOTJ store.
- From Japan's important daily newspaper, "Yomiuri Shimbun," we have great review of "SUBTEXT" translated by Nana Kurosaki
Steve Khan, American jazz fusion specialist's new work introduces Latin rhythms with sounds, incisive and free, while clever and witty. Included are Ornette Coleman's "Bird Food" and other jazz standards, as well as three of his own compositions.
- Hot off of the Web, Brent Black's super review now appears in the May 31st issue of "Digital Jazz News."
Steve Khan's finest release is the one he has not recorded but until then "SUBTEXT" holds the title!
Today the United States Postal Service brought me tidings of great joy which shall be to all people - starting June 24th.
Steve Khan, "SUBTEXT"(Subtexto en Azul)
New York is the improvisational mecca for six string protagonists with Steve Khan nestled quietly within the city that never sleeps. The evolution of Steve Khan appeared to have perhaps reached the pinnacle with the critically acclaimed "PARTING SHOT" from 2011. Khan is back as that ever elusive harmonic chameleon with yet another magnificent outing, "SUBTEXT." The deceptively subtle Latin infusion of flavor welcomes the listener to the land of rhythm and groove as Khan and his musical co-conspirators explore the lyrical landscape of friends both old and new including compositions from Freddie Hubbard, Greg Osby, and Ornette Coleman. The original works here are vibrant grooves of a lyrical life force that few of his contemporaries can match.
The aptly titled "SUBTEXT" confirms the diversity within the Khan vision as these individual compositions all merge as ornate pieces of a beautiful melodic mosaic. Jazz, some assembly required. This is a true collective that includes some notable cameos from the great Gil Goldstein on accordion, along with the intoxicating vocals of Uruguayan singer Mariana Ingold holding serve on "Cada Gota De Mar." Other notables include old friend Rob Mounsey handling keyboards and orchestrations. The percussive trio of Dennis Chambers, Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende are on point every step of the way with rhythmic flair, finesse and panache! None better! Randy Brecker stops by on the Ornette Coleman tune "Bird Food" and delivers a warmth to this open ended free-bop number rarely heard. Perhaps the highlight of "SUBTEXT" would be the Khan original, "Bait and Switch." Hard core Weather Report aficionados will delight in the Zawinul like colors brought forth while Khan maintains his own unique focus and voice with the calling card groove that moves past grit and into a more melodic manipulation of lyrical intent.
Steve Khan could be considered the "Where's Waldo" of guitarists. Widely known and highly respected, Steve Khan seems to lurk just below the surface of those receiving far more ink in the over saturated media markets of today. Steve Khan is an artist! Brilliance needs no review. You celebrate brilliance, and talent always wins out. My personal favorite for Best Jazz Release 2014! 5 Stars!!!
For his wonderful Jazz Caribe blog and radio program, Luis Raúl Montell wrote the following review, in Spanish of course, when debuting "SUBTEXT" this past July 27th to all his Venezuelan listeners and beyond.
So, for all our Spanish speaking visitors, this was definitely something we wanted to share with you.
Este domingo, 27 de Julio 2014, tenemos como siempre un programa sensacional. Tendremos a uno de los mejores guitarristas de todos los tiempos Steve Khan, que como siempre muestra su gran amor por la música, la tradici&uocute;n y nuestros pueblos de Latinoamérica. "SUBTEXT" ("Subtexto en Azul") continúa dentro de un maravilloso esquema de Latin Jazz profundamente interesante. Los temas escogidos, de grandes compositores y ejecutantes, los propios del señor Khan ofrecen un virtuosismo y originalidad única. La cumbia, música tradicional colombiana, merengue, bossa con Jazz. Rubén Rodríguez (bajo), Dennis Chambers (batería), Marc Quiñones y Bobby Allende (rompiendo cueros) y hasta Randy Brecker es invitado en el primer surco y Mariana Ingold en el track, "Cada Gota de Mar". Ratifica Steve Khan que la mayor parte de su alma es Latina!
From the blog-o-sphere, we received Grego Applegate Edwards' review of "SUBTEXT" featured, on October 23rd, 2014, at his blog, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog.
Here's a nice review from James Pacinski which appears in the June, 2011 edition of the JP's Music Blog:
Steve Khan, "SUBTEXT"
Jazz guitarist Steve Khan released his latest batch of compositions entitled "Subtext" on June 24. Named as one of the great jazz guitarists of all-time by Japan's "Jazz Life" magazine, Khan has always assembled the best musicians to create his unique sound, one that is very appealing to jazz fans. The new nine-song release pays tribute to some of his favorite jazz musicians, as he covers songs by Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk. The album carries a Latin-flair as Khan takes on Coleman's "Bird Food," which allows guest artist Randy Brecker to lead the way with his horn solo. Khan steps to the plate with the original "Blue Subtext" as his fingers stretch out along the guitar's fret board on this up-tempo jazz number. The rhythm section of Dennis Chambers (drums), Marc Quiñones (timbal, percussion) and Bobby Allende(conga) give the Freddie Hubbard song "Baraka Sasa" its Latin flavor. Khan's guitar soars amongst the clouds in the mellowness of "Never Let Me Go," then they all come together to support the Spanish vocals of Mariana Ingold on "Cada Gota De Mar." The album closes with wonderful jazz fusion, Santana-like feel of "Bait And Switch."
Here's a terrific review from Ingo Andruschkewitsch, who writes for one of Germany's important internet music magazines, "MUSIK AN SICH." And so, with the translation help from a couple of good friends, here's roughly what he had to say:
Steve Khan, "SUBTEXT"(Subtexto en Azul)
Steve Khan's "SUBTEXT" demonstrates in nine compositions, including classics by Thelonious Monk, Greg Osby, Ornette Coleman and his originals, that he always able to put his own stamp on the music, and music so well-chosen. Surrounded by an illustrious band: Rubén Rodríguez (electric bass), Dennis Chambers (drums), Marc Quiñones (timbal, bongo & percussion) and Bobby Allende (conga), his vision of a Latin-fusion sounds can is perfectly realized. While the strong emphasis on the rhythmic side of music is very well done, the sense of melody is always in full view. It is simply the best foundation for the soulful, yet virtuoso guitar playing of Steve Khan and the guest musicians who contribute so much to the success of the music. Wonderful, for example, is the singing of Mariana Ingold on "Cada Gota de Mar." Composed beautifully with Steve Khan, add Gil Goldstein with his accordion, and there is the icing on the cake. The eight purely instrumental tracks delight you with their tasteful arrangements and a band that places the music easily in its own perfect mood.
"SUBTEXT" is a very inspired album. Steve Khan and his group offer the most convincing and best Latin fusion, music that is cultured, played with virtuosity, and beautifully interpreted. For fans of the genre, this album is a must! Recommended!
Another nice review was penned by Héctor Aviles, who, from his home in Atlanta, GA, writes a terrific and very personal blog, "LATINO MusicCafé."
Latin Jazz Album: Steve Khan's Melodic "SUBTEXT"
Guitarist Steve Khan decided to go "all in" to Latin Jazz with his recent album "Subtext."
Steve is a veteran jazz guitarist and confessed Latin music fan. He has infected his previous albums with elements of Latin jazz and other Latin rhythms. But in "Subtext" Steve Khan goes "all in," bringing three well-known Latin artists to add rhythm and percussion to the album.
Percussionists Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende join forces with bassist Rubén Rodríguez to provide the Latin tinge to "Subtext." It seems as Khan's developing style found its climax by bringing these Latin musicians together for this album.
Besides Steve on guitar ,and the Latin trio, "Subtext" also has the participation of master drummer Dennis Chambers, and guest artists Rob Mounsey (keyboards), Randy Brecker (flügelhorn), Gil Goldstein (accordion), and Mariana Ingold (voice).
Distinctive Jazz Guitar with Spicier Latin Tinge
This album is one of those that sits on the crossroads of Jazz and Latin music, and I want to call it Latin Jazz, but I also hear a Jazz album with Latin music influence.
The difference between "Subtext" and previous Steve Khan albums is that, although Steve has performed songs with Latin rhythm in his previous work, this album truly makes a Latin statement with the contributions of Marc, Bobby, and Rubén.
I enjoyed the melodic and inventive guitar play of Steve Khan, and the Latin trio of musicians add a spice to his music that keeps it fresh and engaging. Trap drums master Dennis Chambers adds to the flavor of the album with his percussion mastery.
One of my favorite songs on "Subtext" is "Cada Gota de Mar," a tribute to Colombia with hints of Vallenato, although honestly, when I listen to the song I hear more Brazilian Samba than Vallenato. But regardless, I like the melodic rhythms of the song, and the vocals. But my favorite song is "Bait and Switch" where Steve and the Latin percussion take center stage, and really let it loose on this vibrant track.
"SUBTEXT" Continues Steve Khan's Evolution Towards Latin
I found "Subtext" more enjoyable than previous Steve Khan albums simply because I personally enjoy the rhythmic Latin spice this album has on top of the Jazz elements. Steve Khan's guitar playing is always dynamic and inventive, and Marc, Bobby, and Rubén are the perfect compliment to Steve's music. All that comes together magically on "Subtext," and I just hope to see this format continue to evolve in future recordings.
Just in from Great Britain, we have Robert Shore's "SUBTEXT" review that appeared in the August issue of "JAZZWISE" magazine from the U.K.
Though he's been airing an outsized talent for four decades now, Steve Khan remains comparatively unknown over here. You've no doubt heard of his father - the great U.S. lyricist Sammy Cahn - but guitarist Khan's exploration of fusion and, increasingly, latin jazz sounds may have escaped your notice. Not that he's an unknown quantity among musicians - he's worked with everyone from Weather Report to Jack DeJohnette, with Steely Dan and Billy Joel thrown in for good measure, so it comes as little surprise to find the likes of Randy Brecker and Rob Mounsey turning up as guests on his new heavily percussive, largely covers-based set.
Things get underway with a deliciously lithe and limber take on Ornette Coleman's "Bird Food," which benefits from a great Brecker flugelhorn break, and continue on their merry way via Freddie Hubbard's "Baraka Sasa" and Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack." The originals are worth hearing too. "Cada Gota de Mar" is a dip into the Colombia Vallenato (popular folk) idiom co-written with guest vocalist Mariana Ingold, while the epic "Bait and Switch" brings the proceedings to a cha-cha-cha-ing close.
From the December 2014 issue of MODERN DRUMMER:
Steve Khan Subtext
Close listening is rewarded on this chill-jazz affair, where a master of sparks speaks quiet but still carries a big stick..
Latin-jazz flavors abound on this offering from guitarist Steve Khan, who's wise enough to employ the services of a real-deal cast including bassist Rubén Rodríguez, and percussionists Mark Quiñones and Bobby Allende. But it's the presence of longtime collaborator Dennis Chambers, fresh off an extended stint as Santana's drummer, that nudges the music beyond the subdued smooth-guitar territory. Chambers treads carefully throughout the album, keeping his famous megachops in check, but still adds vital elements. On "Baraka Sasa" he lays down a tight backbeat foundation, syncopating his kick and snare just enough that the music lifts. Chambers approaches "Never Let Me Go" with silky brushes, and applies a perfectly placed open hi-hat downbeat accent on "Bird Food." The crystal-clear recording brings all these subtleties into high relief. And those who are eternally hungry for some solo sparks from Dennis will be satisfied - somewhat - by "Bait and Switch," where the master breaks up the time on an outro amp that fades all too soon.(Tone Center) - Ilya Stemkovsky
From his blog, we have Oscar Groomes' "SUBTEXT" review that appeared in the September issue of "O's Place Jazz Magazine."
Guitarist Steve Khan assembles a fine team for "SUBTEXT," the latest in his evolution of contemporary jazz. It is sophisticated fusion with a decided Latin bent owed to Khan's passion for salsa and his core team of musicians. Rubén Rodriguez (b), Dennis Chambers (d), Marc Quiñones (perc, bongo, timbales) and Bobby Allende (conga, bongo) are long time associates, who are now weaved into the fabric of Steve's signature. The program combines fresh arrangements with a few of Khan's own tunes notably "Blue Subtext" and "Bait And Switch." "Cada Gota de Mar" has a jovial, Caribbean swing featuring vocalist Mariana Ingold, Gil Goldstein (accordion) and Rob Mounsey (orchestration & coro). "Hackensack" and "Never Let Me Go" are other standouts in a truly fine performance.