Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Khan, Steve (Steve Cahn)
Khan, Steve [Steve Cahn], guitar; b. Los Angeles, CA, 28 April 1947. His father was the lyricist Sammy Cahn and his mother was Gloria Franks. He has a sister, Laurie Kahn. Steve began his career using his birth name but found it was constantly misspelled and chose Khan simply because it appealed to him and was more distinctive. He only found out later that his father had been born Sammy Cohen but took Cahn as a "pen name."
Steve admits that, when he was a teenager, "I was a terrible drummer with no musical training. I had developed a love for the guitar, and when I was 19, I switched instruments. I decided that I would not make the same mistakes I had made with the drums, and studied hard in college along with private lessons from Ron Anthony." During these years, Khan always found himself in fast company and, from such situations he learned, developed and survived. By the time he graduated from U.C.L.A., in 1969, he felt ready to make the move to New York City. He has a B.A. from U.C.L.A.(1969) in Music(Composition & Theory).
From this point forward, so much of Steve's career is well documented. In 1974, he performed in one of the first contemporary jazz guitar duos with Larry Coryell. During this same period, he became a key member of the Brecker Bros. Band. His first recordings as a leader were a trio of well-received albums for Columbia Records. These recordings featured Michael and Randy Brecker, David Sanborn, Don Grolnick, Will Lee, Steve Gadd, Mike Mainieri and others.
Between 1981 and 1985, he worked and recorded steadily with his quartet, Eyewitness, which included Anthony Jackson, Manolo Badrena, and Steve Jordan. During 1984, Steve joined with Steely Dan's Donald Fagen to interpret Thelonious Monk's "Reflections" for the That's The Way I Feel Now recording which was a tribute to Monk and his compositions. When the group needed a break, Khan joined Joe Zawinul's Weather Update for it's one and only tour in '86.
In 1994, Steve found himself back in the company of Anthony Jackson and Manolo Badrena, adding Dennis Chambers and Michael Brecker for Crossings which is dedicated to the memory of Steve's late father, lyricist Sammy Cahn.
More recently, Steve has contributed his talents to several special projects. His unique medley of two George Harrison tunes graced Mike Mainieri's NYC Records Come Together, A Guitar Tribute to the Beatles. Here Steve was accompanied by Marc Johnson, Peter Erskine, and Nana Vasconcelos. Special Olympics and the Holiday Season brought Steve together with the Brecker Bros. for a Salsa-styled interpretation of his father's one Christmas song, "The Christmas Waltz," which appeared on the CD, Jazz To The World. 1996 saw Steve teamed with Argentine vocalist Gabriela Anders, Rob Mounsey, and, New York Salsa All-Stars: Ruben Rodriguez, Marc Quinones, and Papo Pepin to contribute "Don't Worry Baby"("No Te Preocupes Nena") to Wouldn't It Be Nice, a tribute to Brian Wilson.
In August of '98, Steve toured Japan as part of Dave Samuels' "Tribute to Cal Tjader" Group. Apart from the tremendous reaction the group received, the tour was to have more far reaching consequences as it was here that plans were made for Steve, Dave Samuels and Dave Valentin to become the co-leaders of the reformed Caribbean Jazz Project. After some isolated tour dates in early '99 for the group, Steve and Dave Samuels were asked to appear on Dave Valentin's first recording for Concord Records. Upon hearing those performances, Concord president, John Burk, asked to sign the Caribbean Jazz Project to his label as well. As a result of these chance events, the group's first recording with the new line-up (which then included, John Benitez: bass; Richie Flores: congas; Robert Vilera: timbal), was titled New Horizons and released on Concord Picante during February, 2000. It featured three of Steve's compositions including: "Descarga Canelon"; "Charanga Si, Si"; and "Safe and Sound (Sano y Salvo)." Since its inception, the group toured tirelessly in Europe, South & Central America, and the U.S. as well. 2001 saw this very popular group returning to Europe several times and more touring around the U.S. as well. However, in January, 2002, citing "creative differences," Steve left the group to pursue other interests.
Throughout his long and distinguished career, Steve has found time to lend his talents to recordings by such diverse artists as: Miles Davis, Steely Dan, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Quincy Jones, Eddie Palmieri, Freddie Hubbard, the Brecker Bros., Steps Ahead, among others (too numerous to list). He has also produced recordings for fellow guitarists Larry Coryell, Mike Stern, Bireli Lagrene, and Bill Connors, as well as pianist Eliane Elias. While continuing to perform in clubs and concert halls throughout the U.S., Europe, Central and South America, and Japan, Steve has also become one of the most in-demand music clinicians and teachers.
He has one son, Heath Price-Khan, born to Steve and Erika Price on February 28, 1973. He married Nancy Fleisher in 1988. They divorced in 1994.
Recordings as a leader or co-leader:
Two For The Road (with Larry Coryell) (1976); Tightrope (1977); Alivemutherforya (with Billy Cobham, Alphonso Johnson & Tom Scott) (1978); The Blue Man (1978);
Arrows (1979); The Best Of Steve Khan (1980); Evidence (1981); Eyewitness (1981); Blades/Modern Times (1982); Casa Loco (1983); Helping Hand (1987); Local Color (with Rob Mounsey) (1987); Public Access (1989); Let's Call This (1991); Headline (1992); Crossings (1994); The Collection (1994); Got My Mental (with John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette) (1997); You Are Here (with Rob Mounsey) (1998); New Horizons (with Caribbean Jazz Project) (2000); Paraiso (withCaribbean Jazz Project)(2001)
The Wes Montgomery Guitar Folio (Gopam)
Pat Martino-The Early Years (Warner Bros.)
Steve Khan-Guitar Workshop Series (Warner Bros.)
Contemporary Chord Khancepts (Warner Bros.)
Pentatonic Khancepts (Warner Bros.)
Numerous awards, including being selected by Japan's "Jazz Life" magazine as one of the 22 All-Time Greatest Jazz Guitarists.
Steve can always be reached via the CONTACT STEVE page