Steve Khan

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Steve Khan
Steve Khan.jpg
Background information
Birth nameSteve Cahn
Born (1947-04-28) April 28, 1947 (age 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion
Years active1969–present
LabelsColumbia, Novus, Antilles, Denon, GRP, Mesa/Bluemoon, Verve, Evidence, Tone Center
Associated actsEyewitness, Brecker Brothers, Joe Zawinul/Weather Update, Caribbean Jazz Project

Steve Khan (born April 28, 1947) is an American jazz guitarist.


According to Steve Khan, his father, lyricist Sammy Cahn, "loved to hear of any and all versions of his songs".[1] Thus Khan grew up in a house with music.[1] He took piano lessons as a child and played drums for the surf rock band the Chantays.[1] The band's guitarist exposed him to the albums Tough Talk by the Crusaders and Movin' Wes by Wes Montgomery.[1] In his late teens he quit the drums and started playing guitar.[1] He was a member of the R&B band Friends of Distinction, recorded with keyboardist Phil Moore, then played on the album Bullitt by Wilton Felder ("one of my heroes").[1] Despite his father's advice to avoid a career in the music business, he graduated from UCLA with a degree in music composition and theory.[1]

In the early 1970s, he performed in an acoustic guitar duo with Larry Coryell and was a member of the Brecker Brothers band.[1] As a session musician, he appeared on albums by Ashford & Simpson, Rupert Holmes, Billy Joel, and Steely Dan.[2] He was signed to Columbia Records through the efforts of Bobby Colomby and Bob James.[1] On his first three albums Tightrope (1977), The Blue Man (1978), and Arrows (1979), he was trying "to single-handledly keep alive the sound of the original Brecker Brothers band."[1] His next album was Evidence (1980), which contained an eighteen-minute medley of songs by Thelonious Monk.[3] In 1977, he toured with the CBS Jazz All-Stars which included Billy Cobham, Tom Scott, and Alphonso Johnson, and then led the ground-breaking band called Eyewitness that featured musicians: Steve Jordan, Anthony Jackson and Manolo Badrena. In 1986, he toured as part of Joe Zawinul's Weather Update. From 1999 through 2002, he co-led the Caribbean Jazz Project alongside Dave Samuels and Dave Valentín. From the 1980s through to the present, he has become the foremost proponent of the guitar in Latin Jazz. With the releases of Parting Shot (2011), Subtext (2014), and Backlog (2016), he has created what the role of the guitar could be in Latin jazz.

His style integrates angular single-note lines with chordal punctuations, reminiscent of jazz pianists like McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea. Arriving in New York at the dawn of the '70s, he came to form a part of the '2nd Wave' of Fusion guitarists that included John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, and later arrivals John Scofield and Bill Connors. Over the course of a long career, he is now recognized for his innovations in the world of Latin Jazz, while firmly establishing himself to many as journalist Antonio Gandía described him in his cover story interview for "MÚSICO PRO" as 'the voice of Latin Jazz guitar'.'s John Kelman sees him as "one of the great interpreters of the compositions of Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman."

His album covers are notable for featuring the artwork of Jean-Michel Folon, and more recently, Michel Granger.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Grammy Award nomination, Local Color (1987)
  • Grammy Award nomination, Borrowed Time (2007)
  • Named to list of "22 All-Time Greatest Jazz Guitarists", Jazz Life magazine (1998)[4]


As leader[edit]

Date Album title Label Line-up, notes
1976 Two for the Road Arista Duo with Larry Coryell on acoustic guitars. Produced by Khan. CD-Reissue on Wounded Bird (2015).
1977 Tightrope Columbia (Tappan Zee) Sextet to Tentet with the Brecker Brothers, Don Grolnick, Jeff Mironov, Will Lee, Steve Gadd and Ralph MacDonald. Produced by Bob James.
1978 The Blue Man Columbia line-up similar to 1977 Remastered 1998 by Sony.
1979 Arrows Columbia Sextet to Nonet, similar to 1977, Rick Marotta alternating with Gadd, Rob Mounsey on Oberheim polyphonic, percussion by Errol "Crusher" Bennett. Sanborn on two tracks. Produced by Khan and Elliot Scheiner.
1980 Evidence Arista Novus Solo guitar album with compositions by Shorter, Silver, a Monk medley et al. Produced by Khan and Doug Epstein.
1981 Eyewitness Antilles Eyewitness quartet with Anthony Jackson, Steve Jordan and Manolo Badrena. Produced by Khan and Doug Epstein.
1982 Modern Times also released as Blades Trio/Passport Eyewitness quartet. Recorded "live" in Tokyo, Japan. Produced by Khan and Doug Epstein.
1984 Casa Loco Antilles Eyewitness quartet. Produced by Khan and Doug Epstein.
1987 Helping Hand Polydor Functions as an early "BEST OF" Eyewitness on five of seven tracks. Two tracks are from "EVIDENCE" and the remaining three tracks are new and inspired by Jean-Michel Folon animated commercials for Tokyo Gas and featured: Clifford Carter on keyboards, Café on percussion, and one track plus Bill Evans, Neil Jason and Chris Parker.
1987 Local Color Denon/Passport Duo with Rob Mounsey on piano and synth and Khan on acoustic guitar. Produced by Khan and Mounsey.
1989 Public Access GRP Eyewitness quartet with Dave Weckl. Khan uses harmonizer and Badrena electronic percussion. Produced by Khan with engineer Malcolm Pollack.
1991 Let's Call This Polydor/Mesa/Blue Moon Trio with Ron Carter and Al Foster. Classic jazz trio setting. Produced by Khan with Pollack.
1992 Headline Polydor/Mesa/Blue Moon Trio with Ron Carter and Al Foster.
Eyewitness quartet on three tracks with Dennis Chambers. Standards and compositions by Henderson, Coleman et al. Produced by Khan with Pollack.
1994 Crossings Verve Forecast/PolyGram Eyewitness quartet plus Michael Brecker on three tracks.
1994 The Collection Columbia/Legacy Compilation of Khan's first three albums 1977–1979.
1997 Got My Mental Evidence Trio with John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette plus four percussionists: Café, Bobby Allende, Don Alias and Marc Quiñones on miscellaneous tracks.
1998 You Are Here Siam with Rob Mounsey
1999 New Horizons Concord Picante with the Caribbean Jazz Project as a co-leader alongside Dave Samuels & Dave Valentín
2000 Paraíso Concord Picante with the Caribbean Jazz Project as a co-leader alongside Dave Samuels & Dave Valentín
2006 The Green Field (El Prado Verde) Tone Center/ESC Quartet with Patitucci, DeJohnette and Manolo Badrena, plus Roberto Quintero and Ralph Irizarry on four tracks. Originals by Khan, a standard and compositions by Hancock, Monk et al. Produced by Khan.
2007 Borrowed Time (Tiempo Prestado) Tone Center/ESC Sextet with Patitucci, DeJohnette, Badrena, Quintero and Irizarry. Guests are Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Badal Roy, Gabriela Anders et al. Produced by Khan.
2007 The Suitcase: Live in Köln '94 Tone Center/ESC Eyewitness trio with Dennis Chambers and Anthony Jackson. Produced by WDR and Khan.
2011 Parting Shot (Golpe de Partida) Tone Center/ESC Eyewitness quartet plus Bobby Allende, Marc Quiñones. Mounsey orchestrated four tracks and plays keyboards on one. Originals by Khan and compositions by Coleman and Monk. Produced by Khan.
2014 Subtext (Subtexto en Azul) Tone Center/ESC Quintet with Dennis Chambers, Bobby Allende, Marc Quiñones and Rubén Rodriguez on bass. Three originals and compositions by Shorter, Monk, Greg Osby et al. Produced by Khan
2015 Tightrope-The Blue Man-Arrows BGO Compiled reissue of Khan's first three albums 1977–1979.
2016 Eyewitness-Modern Times-Casa Loco BGO Compiled reissue of the first three Eyewitness albums 1981–1984.
2017 Backlog (Asuntos Pendientes) Tone Center Featuring: Bobby Allende, Marc Quiñones and Rubén Rodriguez on bass. Mark Walker, Rob Mounsey, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Mike Mainieri, and Tatiana Parra. Produced by Khan
2018 Public Access-Headline-Crossings[5] BGO Compiled reissue of the three Eyewitness2 albums 1988–1994. Featuring Anthony Jackson, Manolo Badrena and Dave Weckl or Dennis Chambers.

As sideman[edit]

Date Main recording artist Album Label Notes
1975 Luther Allison Night Life Tamla Motown
1977 Ashford & Simpson Send It
1977 Ashford & Simpson So So Satisfied
1979 Ashford & Simpson Stay Free
1976 Patti Austin End of a Rainbow
1977 Patti Austin Havana Candy
1979 Gato Barbieri Euphoria A&M Khan on one track
1975 Joe Beck Beck Kudu Khan as second guitarist
1979 Joe Beck & David Sanborn Beck & Sanborn Kudu, CTI
1976 George Benson/Joe Farrell Benson & Farrell CTI Khan on two tracks
1977 Walter Bishop Jr. Soul Village
1976 Brecker Brothers Back to Back
1977 Brecker Brothers Don't Stop the Music
1969 Tim Buckley Blue Afternoon
2000 Caribbean Jazz Project New Horizons
2001 Caribbean Jazz Project Paraiso
2000 Jimmy Cobb So Nobody Else Can Hear
1977 Billy Cobham Inner Conflicts
1978 Billy Cobham Alivemutherforya
1978 Billy Cobham Simplicity of Expression
2007 Paula Cole Courage
1975 Larry Coryell Level One Arista 12-string guitar on title track
1975 Larry Coryell Planet End Vanguard Guest appearance
1976 Larry Coryell Aspects Arista Guest appearance on acoustic guitar
1989 Eddie Daniels Blackwood
1989 Miles Davis Amandla
1992 Mark Egan Beyond Words
1989 Elements Liberal Arts
1982 Donald Fagen The Nightfly
1969 Wilton Felder Bullitt
1977 Maynard Ferguson New Vintage
1985 Aretha Franklin Who's Zoomin' Who?
1989 Aretha Franklin Through the Storm
1982 Michael Franks Objects of Desire
1985 Michael Franks Skin Dive
1987 Michael Franks The Camera Never Lies
1993 Michael Franks Dragonfly Summer
1999 Michael Franks Barefoot on the Beach
1976 Grant Green The Main Attraction
1976 Freddie Hubbard Windjammer
1977 Bob James Heads Tappan Zee/Columbia
1979 Bob James Lucky Seven Tappan Zee/Columbia
1981 Bob James Sign of the Times Tappan Zee/Columbia
1981 Bob James All Around the Town Tappan Zee/Columbia
1983 Bob James The Genie: Themes & Variations
from the TV Series "Taxi"
Tappan Zee/Columbia
1983 Bob James Foxie Tappan Zee/Columbia
1984 Bob James 12 Tappan Zee/Columbia
1987 Bob James Obsession Warner Bros.
1995 Bob James The Swan Tappan Zee/Columbia
1977 Billy Joel The Stranger Columbia
1978 Billy Joel 52nd Street Columbia
1980 Chaka Khan Naughty
1976 Hubert Laws Romeo & Juliet Columbia Khan on one track
1977 Kenny Loggins Celebrate Me Home
1981 Mike Mainieri Wanderlust Warner Bros.
1976 Steve Marcus Sometime Other Than Now
1992 Mendoza/Mardin Project Jazzpaña
2005 Jason Miles Cozmopolitan Jason Miles Khan on one track. Self-released recording from 1979.
1969 Phil Moore Jr. Right On Atlantic
1977 Walter Murphy Rhapsody in Blue Private Stock Khan on two tracks.
1978 Pages Pages
1978 Eddie Palmieri Euphoria
1975 Esther Phillips w/Beck What a Diff'rence a Day Makes Kudu, CTI Khan on rhythm guitar
1976 Esther Phillips Capricorn Princess Kudu, CTI Khan on three tracks.
1976 Esther Phillips with Beck For All We Know Kudu, CTI Khan on rhythm guitar.
1989 Lou Rawls At Last Blue Note Khan on three tracks.
1990 Lou Rawls It's Supposed to Be Fun Blue Note Khan on three tracks.
1997 Philippe Saisse Next Voyage
1989 Dave Samuels Ten Degrees North
1998 Dave Samuels Tjader-ized: A Cal Tjader Tribute
1975 David Sanborn Taking Off Warner Bros. Khan is main guitarist here and wrote two of the nine tracks.
1978 Helen Schneider Let It Be Now
1985 Diane Schuur Deedles
1988 Diane Schuur Talkin' 'Bout You
1980 Don Sebesky Sebesky Fantasy
1993 John Sebastian Tar Beach
1978 Ben Sidran Live at Montreux Arista
1984 Ben Sidran Bop City Antilles, Baybridge
1993 Ben Sidran Life's a Lesson Go Jazz
2013 Janis Siegel Nightsongs: A Late Night Interlude
1977 Phoebe Snow Never Letting Go
1978 Phoebe Snow Against the Grain
1977 Steely Dan Aja Khan on one track.
1980 Steely Dan Gaucho
1989 Steps Ahead N.Y.C.
1992 Steps Ahead Yin-Yang
1988 Mike Stern Time in Place
1999 Dave Valentin Sunshower
1976 Grover Washington Jr. A Secret Place
1989 Kirk Whalum The Promise
2005 Joe Zawinul Weather Update
2003 Guillermo Carrasco Una a la vez eMG Khan on guitar, tracks El Camino, El Arbol, Lucía.


  • Pentatonic Khancepts (Alfred Music, 2002)
  • Contemporary Chord Khancepts (Alfred Music, 1996)
  • Wes Montgomery Guitar Folio (Jamey Aebersold, 1973)
  • Pat Martino: The Early Years (Alfred Music, 1991)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  2. ^ Collar, Matt. "Steve Khan". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Evidence". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Steve Khan Biography". Steve Khan. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Steve Khan | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 September 2016.

External links[edit]