Steve Khan - Eyewitness/Modern Times/ Casa Loco [BGO Records - 2016]This double CD set brings together three early 1980ís albums from respected US jazz/ jazz fusion guitarist Steve Khan. We have 1980ís Eyewitness, 1982ís Modern Times(which is a live album), and 1983ís Casa Loco- all three albums see him joined by bass player Anthony Jackson, drummer Steve Jordan & percussionist Manolo Badrena. And mostly the set offers up fairly successful blend of jazz fusion, world music rhythms, and precise/ highly accomplished musicianship.
Over the years Khan has worked with the likes of James Brown, Billy Cobham, Maynard Ferguson, Bob James, Billy Joel, Hubert Laws, Steely Dan, Weather Report. And has been releasing solo work since the late 1970's, and still releases work today with his last album 2014ís Subtext.
And the other three players here are equally respected & influential - Anthony Jackson is New York based bassist, who has worked in genres such as jazz, fusion, R&B, and Funk. And is most recognised for his Contrabass Playing. He's played with a wide range of artists, such us: Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Madonna, Lalo Schifrin, Simon & Garfunkel. Manolo Badrena is most noted for his tenure with one of the most known & early fusion bandís Weather report, who he played with between 1976 & 1977. As well as also working with a varied selection of artists such as Bill Evans, Talking Heads, Art Blakey, Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones, and Carla Bley. And New York Multi-instrumentalist Steve Jordan, who once again has worked with a wide & varied selection of artists- taking in the likes of The Verbs, John Mayer Trio, Keith Richards, & Eric Clapton.
First out of the bag is 1981ís Eyewitness, and this feature five tracks. With Khan On electric guitars, Jackson on bass, Jordan on drums & Manolo Badrena percussion. Each track is fairly lengthy falling between the six & ten mark. And each finds the four piece offering up a often taut yet harmonic blend of fusion & jazz- with detailed Ďní often exotic rhythmic/ percussive details, wondering-to- grooving bass lines, and passionate-to- precise guitar-scaping. The tracks normally have a starting/ central melody/ riff, which the four pieces jam/ improvise around.
The second album is 1982ís Modern Times, and this is a live album from 1982. It finds the four piece playing in Tokyo in May 82, and takes in a selection of recordings over the two nights. The instrumental line-up is the same as Eyewitness, save for Jackson playing both bass & contrabass. This album takes in four tracks in all, with all four touching the eleven minute mark. I guess youíd say these track are a little loser & more wondering in their structure, which is down to it been a live set. Iíd say itís all certainly very well played once again, with each player shinning equally, though on the whole it not as instant or rewarding as Eyewitness, due to the lack of focus in places. The album is split in two halfs- with two tracks on disc one, and the other two on the start of disc two.
Last up on the rest of disc two, is of course 1983ís Casa Loco. And the instrumental line-up is Khan On electric guitars, Jackson on bass & contrabass, Jordan on drums & Simmons Drums, & Manolo Badrena on percussion& vocals. The album features eight tracks, and Iíd say the world elements are a bit more to fore here with Badrena vocals, and more world percussive detail. Also at times thereís a more formal rock solo flourishers to it here & there to Khan's guitar work. With some of the working having of more instrumental 80ís sounding jazz rock feel to it, similar to what Frank Zappa was playing around this time. On the whole it's another consistent release, with all four once again playing with both precision & flare
This two set appears British label BGO Records, who focus in on reissuing out-of-print albums from with in the Rock, Blues, Jazz and Folk genres. And they will be most known to M[m] readers for their extensive re-issuing of the back catalogue of psychedelic & progressive folk project The Incredible String Band.
The two CDís come in slim-line double jewel case, which comes in a card slipcase. Also featured is a twenty page booklet- taking in full credits for a three albums, and a new ten page write-up about the three albums. All three albums are digital remastered
So in conclusion if you enjoyed precise & creative yet often memorable fusion, with world music hints this two disc set is well worth your timeRoger Batty