- "BACKLOG" was finally released on February 24th, 2017 in the USA. However, the album had already been released in Japan(55 Records) on September 21st, 2016, and, in Germany/Europe(ESC Records) on October 7th, 2016. Now, the first reviews have been published.
- When it was released in Japan, "JAZZ LIFE" magazine wrote this of the album: "Cutting edge Latin jazz album with a completely new approach to wonderful compositions. Steve Khan's unique voice creates exciting music no matter what the material might be, or the group with which he plays. That is what makes him so great!" Just prior to the release JAZZ LIFE's Yujin Naito conducted an in depth INTERVIEW with Steve, specifically about the new album, so make some time to read it.
In the preface to his review in Germany's JAZZ PODIUM, Michael Stürm wrote, "If we had to name one player, who has carried on the technique of the great innovators like: Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall or Wes Montgomery into the Jazz-Rock era in the most consistent way, it's Steve Khan!" Hopefully, this is a good sign for 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 "BACKLOG."
- Offered by the great AllAboutJazz.com site, I was thrilled to read this great REVIEW of "BACKLOG" written by Mark F. Turner.
Steve Khan's love affair with Latin music germinated in the 1980's with his stellar Eyewitness recordings, and continued to develop in a number of releases including 2011's Parting Shot and 2014's Subtext both on Tone Center Records. Backlog is third in this series and represents some of the esteemed jazz guitarist's finest work to date.
A consummate musician, Khan's credits include heavy work in the '70s and '80s with pop and jazz icons Donald Fagen, Michael Brecker, and Joe Zawinul, yet it's leading his own ensembles and recordings where his art truly illuminates. First and foremost, Khan has created a recognizable and singular style. It's not just impeccable chops, there's that tonal richness, fluent weaving of imaginative solos with chordal voicings and the way he phrases every note into a distinctive language.
These attributes have not diminished and are demonstrated here with a top flight ensemble and special guests. Backlog's ten tracks consist of a diverse set of jazz covers, standards, and a sweet rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Go Home." Each piece is "Khan-ceptualized" within a Latin jazz framework proving that it is one thing to speak your own musical language but quite another to articulate another composer's work into that vernacular.
The band executes impeccably starting with a spicy reading of Thelonious Monk's "Criss Cross" as the rhythmic core of bassist Rubén Rodríguez and drummer Mark Walker ignite Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende's percussion march. Next comes saxophonist Greg Osby's "Concepticus in C" where elements of M-Base encounter a persuasive Cha-cha-cha rhythm. Memorable guest spots include a dazzling trumpet solo from Randy Brecker ("Latin Genetics"); sweeping vibes from Mike Mainieri ("Head Start") and the piercing tenor saxophone of Bob Mintzer ("Invisible") as well as gorgeous keyboards and orchestrations by Rob Mounsey on a number of tracks.
Technical abilities notwithstanding, Khan's music flows with melodies and rhythms you can dance to, while also appreciating its exemplary musicianship whether jamming to bomba and plena rhythms or floating blissfully in composer Johnny Mandel's lovely ballad "Emily." One of the many highlights is Stevie Wonder's aforementioned "Go Home" where Khan's fuzz toned solo burns, and even quotes Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" as the music fades.
With a touch of nostalgia pianist Andrew Hill's "Catta" concludes the matter. The classic was featured on recordings by vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and pianist Don Grolnick; luminaries who left indelible imprints on jazz. Khan reinvents the composition and gives it new life while infusing Eyewitness' eclecticism and rapturous voice work from Brazilian singer Tatiana Parra.
It's been said that producing a recording is like giving birth - a strenuous, lengthy and painful process. But sometimes that birth can result in a thing of beauty and vivacity as heard in Steve Khan's resplendent Backlog. - Mark F. Turner
- The first of the critiques that came in was a most thorough REVIEW of the new CD, by allaboutjazz.com's James Nadal. As always, the support from this great website and Jazz resource is so greatly appreciated.
In what could best be described as an enduring exploration, Steve Khan has undertaken the role of expanding and redefining the role of the guitar in the hybrid genre of Latin Jazz. Backlog continues with the concept established as far back as 2005 on The Green Field, in the transformation of straight ahead jazz compositions into unique Khan improvisations drawing deep from the Afro-Cuban tradition.
The percussion duo of Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende have been an essential part of his sound since 2007, and bassist Rubén Rodríguez complements the ensemble with a solid tumbao bass foundation. Drummer Mark Walker rounds out the rhythm section, a dynamic propulsion machine which allows Khan to perform his magic.
The defining clave opens the Thelonious Monk tune, "Criss Cross," Rodríguez on the baby bass establishing the bands melodic direction, Khan weaving his phrases around the percussive layers. "Concepticus In C," by Greg Osby, is reworked in a classic cha-cha-cha mode and demonstrates Khan's affinity for Caribbean dance music in this interpretation. As is customary in Khan's recordings, Ornette Coleman is a major influence and contributor, and his "Latin Genetics" is given a Puerto Rican plena treatment, featuring Randy Brecker on trumpet, playing with a genuine street carnival approach.
It's no secret that the prolific composer Sammy Cahn was Khan's father, and "Our Town," is a personal tribute, complete with lush orchestration courtesy of Rob Mounsey, who does a commendable job on the keyboards. Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson was another musician who delved into the Afro-Cuban rhythms, and Khan covers him on two tunes, "Head Start," with Mike Mainieri on vibes, and "Rojo," where Khan switches to a steel string acoustic for a more relaxed montuno voicing.
Ornette is revisited on "Invisible," bringing Bob Mintzer in on tenor sax to lay out an esoteric blues, against the exotic backdrop. Khan melodically depicts a floating sensation in "Emily," with the understated rhythm serving as a buoyant cloud for his musings. The ancestral Oriza rhythms are utilized on "Go Home," plucked from Stevie Wonder's 1985 release "In Square Circle." The song is driven by Marc Quiñones' deft work with the intricate double bell pattern, and Khan goes into soul/funk territory with high energy and volume. The Brazilian tinge, courtesy of vocalist Tatiana Parra, appears on the remake of "Catta," by Andrew Hill. This song closes the set with the unmistakable sense of romance which is so dominant in Latin music, though sometimes forgotten by the dominant rhythmic undulation.
With Backlog, Khan rounds out the mesmerizing trilogy encompassing Parting Shot (2011) and Subtext (2014) which were recorded under the pressure of a mysterious medical affliction. Khan's music continues to evolve and his quest to take the guitar into an uncharted trajectory has bestowed him with a singular style. No one plays or sounds like Steve Khan, his clever interpretations of jazz compositions shaken up with Afro-Caribbean rhythms is always on the cusp. He is the inquisitive jazz musician mastering the evasive art of reinvention and improvisation on his own terms, in his own time. - James Nadal
- Just received another great, John Heidt review that appears in VINTAGE GUITAR. What he wrote about "BACKLOG" and Steve's playing was very much appreciated and a most welcome surprise on May 25th, 2017.
Steve Khan has spent the last few albums mixing Latin music and jazz. The project has worked beautifully, culminating in this effort that takes tunes from Thelonious Monk, Bobby Hutcherson, Ornette Coleman, Steve's dad Sammy Cahn, and others and mixing the styles in a way that lets Khan and band shine.
Let's talk about Khan's style. He is a brilliant blender of elements, often mixing chords, octaves, and single-line bursts in the space of a solo. While that is featured throughout, check out Hutcherson's "Head Start" for a perfect example. On top of a percolating rhythm section, Khan's solo is a rollercoaster with many thrilling stops.
Another aspect of his soloing is the choice of notes. He can play sweet, but he also throws in notes that are surprising and pleasing. And his tone is pretty much the perfect jazz tone. And, when he ups the dirt, like he does in a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Go Home," it's the perfect 335 tone that is sweet and stinging at the same time. - John Heidt
- Though a bit late to arrive at the party, Mark Sullivan's terrific REVIEW of the new CD, via AllAboutJazz.com, was very much appreciated and wonderful surprise on May 17th, 2017. A choice quote might be:
All of Khan's series of Latin albums are full of great grooves and soulful playing, but Backlog may be the best of them: a rich, varied and surprising selection of songs with enough well-chosen guest artists to keep the arrangements fresh. - Mark Sullivan
- For their June/July, 2017 issue of JAZZIZ magazine, Steve contributed the track "Criss Cross" to their "Sounds of Summer" Sampler CD. The blurb about Steve and "BACKLOG" offered the following:
Latin and Afro-Cuban polyrhythms permeate guitarist Steve Khan's latest recording, Backlog (Tone Center). The album places Khan's supple leads out front of a sterling sextet -- which accommodates several guests, as well -- as he interprets a variety of material, from jazz standards to more obscure material. Given his status as a singular genius of the guitar, Khan was able to recruit Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, and Mike Mainieri, who each play on a track. Khan injects some decidedly Latin sabor into Thelonious Monk's "Criss Cross," our selection, which moves to a battery of percussion supplied by Marc Quiñones, Bobby Allende, and Mark Walker. Bassist Rubén Rodríguez maintains an elastic pulse, while Khan dances gleefully atop the joyous polyrhythms. As if he could help it.
- In the August, 2017 issue of JazzTimes magazine, Steve was featured in their recurring column entitled "Overdue Ovation" and written by Mac Randall. The piece was conducted as an interview and offers some of Steve's unique perspectives on his career and his recent recordings.
- An August, 2017 issue of the UK's GUITAR TECHNIQUES magazine presents Steve's INTERVIEW, conducted with Jason Sidwell during January, 2017. Though very guitar-centric, it offers Steve's very philosophical answers to some general musical questions. Now, you can also view the original "Q&A."
- From Jerry Gordon, whose weekly radio program, Serenade to a Cuckoo" appears on WPRB 103.3 FM wrote the following:
"Genius! A masterpiece. You have gotten even better with age. The new CD is perfection. Your song selections were off the hook, your guitar playing, the arrangements, the sequencing, where you are at, it's all great! Oh yeah, Rob Mounsey did a helluva job on this CD."
- Yet another very perceptive, thoughtful and well-written combination review/interview arrived by England's Matt Phillips and it appears in the March issue of his great blog, "MOVING THE RIVER." One just never knows where a great review might appear. Many thanks to Matt for continuing to write about Steve's recordings!
- On July 14th, 2017 Carol Banks Weber in her column @ Jazz Medium site wrote another great REVIEW titled: "I can't get Steve Khan's BACKLOG out of my head...." and the review begins like this:
Normally, a covers-based jazz album tends to wear out the same grooves. Steve Khan's Backlog (Asuntos Pendientes) is not that kind of album; it's an exceptional blend of the melodic and the technically intricate.
The Latin-laced, percussive guitar tracks are lavish, lush, and a lovely echo of all that is wonderful in jazz when jazz musicians focus on musicality over simply showing off chops.
But then, almost any jazz album with a Latin edge will win me over. I am a product of the Baby Boomers '60s, after all.
My favorite tune off Khan's Feb. 24 release is "Rojo" from Bobby Hutcherson. The melodic twist Khan and his crew pull off will leave a definite mark long after the final play. I went to bed with the melody dancing around in my head - a lovely way to go off the deep end.
Backlog is Khan's third in a series, after Parting Shot in 2011 and Subtext (2014). Once considered a showy New York style guitarist rising up in the '70s downtown scene, Khan has since turned his attentions to the connective tissue between performer and audience in the crux of the music that compels a person to get up and move, or be moved.
Hard to believe but Carol's review only gets better from there. Click on the supplied link and read it all for yourself. Thanks so much Carol!!
- From Bill Milkowski, a 4-Star Review appeared in the August edition of "Down Beat" magazine.
Veteran guitarist Steve Khan a first-call session man during the '70s and a potent figure on the fusion scene, once again explores an Afro-Cuban vibe on BACKLOG (Tone Center). As he had done successfully on 2011's Parting Shot and 2014's Subtext, Khan puts a Latin spin on familiar tunes by Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman and various composers of the Great American Songbook. Back by a grooving quintet of keyboardist Rob Mounsey, bassist Rubén Rodrígues, drummer Mark Walker and percussionists Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende. Khan plays with rhythmic confidence and verve on his warm-toned Gibson 335, carrying the melody, articulating intricate heads and improvising on infectious, clave fueled renditions of Monk's "Criss Cross," Coleman's buoyant "Latin Genetics" and "invisible," Andrew Hil's "Catta" and the gorgeous Johnny Mercer/Johnny Mandel standard. "Emily."
- From Preston Frazier's March 12th edition of his blog, "Five for the Road" comes a wonderful paragraph about Steve's latest album.
STEVE KHAN - BACKLOG (2017): Speaking of a living guitar legend, Steve Khan returns with a gorgeous mix of Latin tinged covers and infectious arrangements for a powerhouse band. Khan, a noted writer, breathes new life into songs by Thelonious Monk ("Criss Cross") and his father Sammy Cahn ("Our Town," which was co-written with Jimmy Van Heusen). An always tasteful and provocative guitarist, Steve Khan leads a band including Randy Brecker, Marc Quiñones and Bob Mintzer through a wonderful and worldly musical journey which captivates the listener.
- From the "LATIN JAZZ CORNER" website, we just received news that Chip Boaz had named "BACKLOG" as its "ALBUM OF THE WEEK"!!! We could not be more pleased and grateful for this honor. His review of the album shows that he has a deep understanding of the genre, and what Steve has been trying to do in creating a broader role for the guitar within it. Mil gracias Chip!!! Un gran abrazo!!!
- Once again, I am honored and really thrilled to have another spectacular review from Rafael Vega Curry, in Spanish of course, which appears in the March 31st issue of "Reseña" from "Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular de Puerto Rico."
So, for all our Spanish speaking visitors, this was definitely something most special that we wanted to share with you.
Steve Khan en su mejor momento
Por Rafael Vega Curry
Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular
Steve Khan se ha convertido en el gran maestro de la guitarra de jazz latino, con una propuesta musical realmente única. Su nueva grabación, "Backlog (Asuntos pendientes)" expande el trabajo que ya consolidó en sus dos discos anteriores, "Parting Shot" y "Subtext". A todas luces, se encuentra en su mejor momento, en términos de su concepto, el sonido de su guitarra, la selección de repertorio y la interacción con sus músicos.
"Interacción" es una palabra clave aquí. Al igual que en "Subtext", en "Backlog" acompañan al guitarrista tres grandes músicos de ascendencia boricua: los percusionistas Marc Quiñones y Bobby Allende y el bajista Rubén Rodríguez. Entre los tres, acumulan un resumé de bagaje casi infinito, que incluye desde Willie Colón y Rubén Blades hasta Tito Puente, Spyro Gyra, los Allman Brothers, Grover Washington, Roberta Flack y Celia Cruz, entre muchos otros.
Pero más importante aún, este trío de puertorriqueños de Nueva York - a quienes se les une el baterista Mark Walker- ayudan de manera decisiva a Khan a definir su concepto de fusión, al proveer el sabor auténtico de la salsa y el jazz latino de la Gran Manzana. Para un purista, el uso de un cencerro y la campana de un timbal sitúan automáticamente a una pieza dentro del género de la salsa. Aquí esa barrera queda superada, con frecuentes campaneos que invitan a bailar, mientras al mismo tiempo Khan ejecuta su magia en la guitarra, con profundas exploraciones jazzísticas que vale la pena escuchar en múltiples ocasiones para captar toda su riqueza. Todo fluye de manera orgánica y auténtica.
El sonido de esa guitarra merece un comentario aparte. El rasgo distintivo de los mejores jazzistas es que tienen un sonido propio, y Khan lo posee hace mucho tiempo. Cálido, fluido, delicadamente asertivo, llegando en ocasiones a lo poético, es inmediatamente identificable. Su Gibson 335 también puede ser agresiva si la ocasión lo requiere, como sucede aquí por lo menos en un tema, pero nunca hace uso de pirotecnias innecesarias.
Como en grabaciones anteriores, Khan presenta aquí composiciones de dos de sus compositores favoritos, Ornette Coleman y Thelonious Monk, e incluye además selecciones de Stevie Wonder (por primera vez en su carrera), el recientemente desaparecido vibrafonista Bobby Hutcherson y el pianista, también ya fallecido, Andrew Hill. La presencia de invitados especiales en varios de los diez números, así como las discretas orquestaciones de Rob Mounsey en sintetizadores, añaden nuevas tonalidades y colores. La voz de Tatiana Parra le da un acento de "world music" a la pieza final.
Cada número trae un deleite especial: los acentos de música jíbara con que comienza "Criss Cross", de Monk, así como los vibrantes solos de conga y timbal de Quiñones y Allende; el "Latin Genetics", de Ornette, a ritmo de plena y con la jubilosa trompeta de Randy Brecker; la tierna versión en bolero de "Our Town" (compuesta por el padre del guitarrista, Sammy Cahn, y Jimmy Van Heusen), en el que la guitarra "canta" con íntima perfección; los agradables colores y swing del vibráfono de Mike Mainieri en "Head Start".
El segmento compuesto por las piezas "Rojo" e "Invisible" es toda una gozada salsera, con congas, timbal y la perfecta conjunción jazzística, y el saxofón tenor de Bob Mintzer ampliando el sonido del segundo con un solo repleto de swing y fluidez. Mientras tanto, "Emily" (clásico de Johnny Mandel y Johnny Mercer), en cadencia de 6/8, da cuenta del buen gusto de Khan en la selección de temas, los giros imaginativos con que los recrea y el sonido lírico de su instrumento.
La originalidad de Khan continúa de manifiesto en su versión de "Go Home", de Stevie Wonder, en ritmos de oriza, blues y son montuno. Aquí, además, el guitarrista da rienda suelta a su lado más rockero y reafirma una vez más que su enfoque es único en todo el panorama del jazz latino.
Otra gran selección cierra este magnífico disco, "Catta", de Andrew Hill, una composición raramente cubierta por otros músicos. Acentuando el carácter esencialmente "latino" del tema, este es un alegre fin de fiesta, con un sólido concepto de grupo, una guitarra de delicioso swing y solos de percusión que confirman que Marc Quiñones y Bobby Allende también tienen estilos singulares de expresión.
Admirablemente bien concebido y secuenciado, "Backlog" es una de las mejores grabaciones en la carrera de Steve Khan, quien ha hecho suyas de corazón las tradiciones musicales latinas y puertorriqueñas. Es música totalmente accesible y, a la vez, de implicaciones más profundas de lo que pudiera parecer a simple vista, multifacética, memorable y hermosa. Es necesario mencionar también la unidad en el diseño gráfico que distingue las producciones del guitarrista; esto crea un sentido de que son volúmenes de una colección que esperamos se extienda por muchos años más, para deleite de quienes aman la mejor música. - Rafael Vega Curry
- From Cali, Colombia, I was sent a link to Luis Felipe Valera's review, en Español, which appeared at his page, where he is often known as "DJ El Chino" in the February, 2017 edition of "Solar Latin Club." So, for all our Spanish speaking visitors, we are now sharing this with you.
En Backlog - material editado hace por el sello Tone Center, el guitarrista estadounidense Stene Khan nos entrega otra obra de arte, una de esas que un artista de la talla de Khan produce de manera organica. Backlog o Asuntos Pendientes, el sub-titulo de esta placa, es una lista de tareas que Khan tenia pendientes y que son aqui materializadas. Despues de mas una veintena de producciones musicales como lider y co-lider, el graduado de U.C.L.A. invita a reconocidos musicos como el bajista Rubén Rodríguez, el timbalero Marc Quiñones y el conguero Bobby Allende. Tambien tenemos el placer de escuchar a Mark Walker en la bateria, Rob Mounsey en los teclados, Randy Brecker (trompeta); Bob Mintzer (saxofón tenor), Mike Mainieri (vibrafono) y la vocalista brasilera Tatiana Parra.
Elegido como uno de los mejores 22 guitarristas de Jazz de todos los tiempos por la revista japonesa JAZZ LIFE, Khan tiene una trayectoria artistica de mas de 40 años. En esta nueva entrega, grabada en los estudios Avatar con el concurso de James Farber y Greg Calbi, Khan decide arreglar composiciones populares de músicos reconocidos y con un gran bagaje en el jazz: así nos encontramos con "Criss Cross" de Thelonious Monk; "Concepticus in C" de Greg Osby, "Latin Genetics" e "Invisible," ambas de Ornette Coleman; "Rojo" de Bobby Hutcherson o "Go Home" de Stevie Wonder, entre otras. Khan las transforma a su manera y con todo su genio adquieren nueva vida. "Latin Genetics" adquiere la forma de una plena puertorriqueña mientras que "Criss Cross" revive como una descarga explosiva y perfecta con destacadas actuaciones del mismo Khan en un fraseo hipnotico en la guitarra, asi como de Bobby Allende (congas) y Marc Quiñones (timbales). "Concepticus in C" es afrontado como un cha cha cha cadente. "Emily," una melodia Afro-Cubana en 6/8, es un viaje místico e intimista en el Khan - por medio de su fraseo - nos va llevando hasta un paraje paradisíaco. "Catta," original de Andrew Hill, posee una tensión fascinante que desemboca en un Mambo con los vocales de la paulista Tatiana Parra. - DJ El Chino
- From the blog-o-sphere, all the way south in Temuco, Chile and "Sin Temor al Jazz" we had these wonderful comments, especially for our Spanish speaking visitors:
Un gran aporte este disco, sencillamente "Sabroso", uno de los trabajos con más cercanía a los ritmos salseros de este gran guitarrista, amante del Latin Jazz, su trabajo con Standards, partiendo por "Criss Cross" del gran Thelonious hasta la vanguardia de "Latin Genetics" de Ornette, nos entrega una paleta llena de colores sonoros que no pueden sino dejarnos el alma alegre para enfrentar un nuevo día, mil gracias y saludos desde Temuco, Chile.
- From writer, Mike Greenblatt, who writes about "BACKLOG" in the THE AQUARIAN WEEKLY, the March 29th, 2017 edition.
When guitarist/producer Steve Khan - son of legendary lyricist Sammy Cahn - wraps his fingers around Thelonious Monk's "Criss-Cross," Ornette Coleman's "Latin Genetics," Stevie Wonder's "Go Home" or his father’s "Our Town," you know something magical is going to happen. This all-genre axeman makes it seem so effortless.
His new album "BACKLOG" (Tone Center) is a rare treat filled with Latin/Afro-Cuban meanderings and could be seen as the final chapter of a trilogy he started in 2011 with "PARTING SHOT" and continued in 2014 with "SUBTEXT." The band of guitar, bass, drums, two percussionists, trumpet, sax, vibes, keys and voice (for the closing Andrew Hill song, "Catta") is sterling. The effect is mesmerizing. Wholeheartedly recommended. - Mike Greenblatt
- From writer, Woodrow Wilkins, who writes about "BACKLOG" in the THE JAZZ WRITER, the April, 2017 edition.
There was the stunning electric guitar solo on the disco-fueled, big band cover of the Star Wars theme with Maynard Ferguson. Then there was the beautiful end solo to Steely Dan's "Glamour Profession." And apart from those, there were guest appearances with numerous other artists, his partnership with keyboardist Rob Mounsey and a brilliant solo career. The point is, you see Steve Khan's name, you know what you're going to get: musical fulfillment. That tradition continues with Backlog (Tone Center Records, 2017).
Personnel on this date are Rubén Rodríguez, baby bass and electric bass; Mark Walker, drums; Marc Quiñones, timbal, bongo and percussion; and Bobby Allende, conga and bongo. Guests appearing selected tracks are Randy Brecker, trumpet on "Latin Genetics"; Bob Mintzer, tenor sax on "Invisible"; Mike Mainieri, vibes on "Head Start"; Rob Mounsey, keyboards, orchestrations and orchestral arrangements on several songs; and Tatiana Parra, voice on "Catta."
Khan's treatment of Ornette Coleman's "Latin Genetics" presents a festive offering. Khan and Brecker are in unison for the melody. The rhythm section is as prominent here as the two leads, offering plenty of variety as they maintain the beat. Brecker and Khan take turns adding to the block party mood with extended solos.
Mainieri steps in for fellow vibist Bobby Hutcherson's "Head Start." The combination of guitar and vibraphone creates an ethereal element. Rodriguez's groove is felt throughout. And the trio of Walker, Quiñones and Allende jam it up on their instruments.
Mounsey joins for Khan's take on "Go Home." With the percussionists doing their thing and Rodríguez delivering a cool bass line, Khan covers the Stevie Wonder vocal lead. Though this arrangement is mostly faithful to the original, Khan and his partners give it plenty of improvisational juice.
Though these aren't original songs, Khan makes them his own with fresh arrangements and, of course, his style of play. Several of the songs are also given Spanish subtitles, "Latin Genetics (Genética Latina)" and "Go Home (Vete a Casa)," for example.
Over his career, Khan has skillfully moved from genre to genre, often within a session, hitting Latin or Afro-Cuban music, Great American Songbook standards, fusion and more. Backlog is his fifth solo release after a 10-year hiatus from recording as a leader. The others are The Green Field (2005), Borrowed Time (2007), Parting Shot (2011) and Subtext (2015). - Woodrow Wilkens
- From Jazz journalist, Dee Dee McNeil, who writes about "BACKLOG" in her Musical Memoirs Blog, the March 4th, 2017 edition.
"Backlog" is perhaps Khan's most innovative reimagining of musical material, generously splashing this repertoire with Latin and Afro/Cuban overtones. Compositions by Ornette Coleman, Greg Osby and even an infectious song written by Stevie Wonder called "Go Home" are all steeped in Latino rhythms. On Stevie's composition, right from the first couple of bars, Rubén Rodríguez drops the bass groove down like a whip; crisp and commanding. Then Khan's guitar brings the blues front and center on this Motown icon's work. It's Walker on drums and Quiñones and Allende on percussion who drive this music hard! This body of work celebrates Khan's extraordinary creativity and technical abilities on his axe. Khan's guitar is always in command, and at the forefront of his ensemble. The artist introduces special guests on this creative project, like Bob Mintzer, who lavishly sprays tenor saxophone colors on Ornette Coleman's tune, "Invisible." and Randy Brecker makes a guest appearance on Ornette's "Latin Genetics." As I listen to the final piece, Andrew Hill's "Catta," this innovative guitarist adds harmonic voices, singing like horns to enhance his production. For a brief moment, Khan's guitar style reminds me poignantly of Wes Montgomery on this particular piece. All in all, here is a recording that brings pleasure, energy, Latin rhythms and the innovative spirit that jazz inspires.
- From the Jazz newsletter, O's Place, and the June, 2017 edition, comes his fine review of "BACKLOG."
Veteran guitarist Steve Khan has created a unique blend of complex melodies infusing guitar and percussion. It is Latin-fusion that skips the acrobatics but is not short on sweet melodies and syncopated rhythms. Bassist Rubén Rodríguez, drummer Mark Walker, Marc Quiñones(timbal, bongo, perc.) and Bobby Allende(conga, bongo) join Khan to form the core quintet. There are also five guest artists appearing across the ten selections notably Randy Brecker(tpt) and Bob Mintzer(tenor sax). They open with sparks flying on Monk's "Criss Cross" and it's on from there!!! There's a nice take of Stevie Wonder's "Go Home." We also enjoyed the heavy Salsa groove "Catta" featuring vocalizing by Tatiana Parra. - Oscar Groomes
- From writer, George W. Harris, who chose "BACKLOG" to be his ****RINGER OF THE WEEK**** for Jazz Weekly, the May 25th, 2017 edition.
........All parts of the Latin world are explored as if Khan had been on Magellan's ship himself. Look for this one! - George W. Harris
- From Jazz journalist, Chris Spector, who writes about "BACKLOG" in his Midwest Record Blog, the March 3rd, 2017 edition.
The average young'un probably doesn't know most of this set, no matter how august the composers were, but it'll all be new, because it's new to them, and it cooks - so little else matters. Solid stuff that's a master class in jazz guitar to the hard core, and great listening to everyone else. - Chris Spector