JJ 03/84: Steve Khan – Eyewitness

Forty years ago Mark Gilbert welcomed the guitarist's adoption of the Gibson 335, chorus pedal and new melodic directions. First published in Jazz Journal March 1984

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Those familiar with Steve Khan’s sterling work as one of the ‘skunk funk’ crew of NY session men in the late seventies, and later with the excellent Steely Dan, may be in for a surprise with this album. The distinctive and muscular overdriven guitar sound has been superseded by a mellow ‘clean’ sound with chorus effect. Much of the purely musical vocabulary has changed too, with Khan pur­suing more adventurous melodic directions, although attentive listeners will recognise some of those sweet, sentimental blues riffs, most notably on the superb Dr Slump. This track also illus­trates two other laudable ele­ments in Khan’s music: tasteful Hendrix style chording and subtle use of the tremelo bar to achieve effects redolent of Allan Holdsworth.

Khan is supported by an imaginative rhythm section, which is an important entity in its own right, and offers exciting polyrhythms and ambiguities. Where’s Mumphrey? shows the percussion team of Jordan and Badrena at their best.

Most of the tunes are based on riffs rather than changes, and so much of the interest derives from departures from the tonal or rhythmic norm. It might not appeal at first to long time fans, but a few listenings should pay dividends.


Discography
Where’s Mumphrey?; Dr Slump; Auxiliary Police (21.14) – Guy Lafleur; Eyewitness (17.46)
Steve Khan (g); Anthony Jackson (b); Steve Jordan (d); Manolo Badrena (pc). Recorded New York, November 1981.
(Antilles AN 1018)