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Steve Khan: Tightrope/The Blue Man/Arrows *

Album Notes

BGO's 2013 three-fer combines the jazz fusion guitarist's three late-'70s albums for Columbia -- 1977's Tightrope, 1978's The Blue Man, 1979's Arrows -- on a two-CD set, a move that amounts to his complete recorded work for Columbia. These also are Steve Khan's first three albums and while they're very much of their time -- slick yet adventurous fusions of jazz, soul, funk, and rock of the progressive nature, albums where the groove is deep in the pocket yet still seems slippery, partially due to all those glistening surfaces -- they also exemplify the best parts of this era. They play as smooth as Bob James -- the keyboardist produced Tightrope and plays on it as well -- but there's a canniness to Khan's original compositions that recalls the cleverness of Steely Dan (indeed, Donald Fagen wrote a testimonial to the prowess of the guitarist on Arrows). Most of all, the focus is on the taste and fire of Khan's playing, particularly on the self-produced The Blue Man and Arrows. Here, Khan slides between easy lyricism and colorful, fiery runs, and those quicksilver transitions keep this anything but predictable. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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