Steve Khan: The Green Field

Ten years since his last album as a leader, guitarist Steve Khan enlisted the support of bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jack DeJohnette (who both played on 1996’s Got My Mental) for his new project, which adds percussionist Manolo Badrena. Ralph Irizarry (timbales) and Roberto Quintero (congas) join the quartet on four of the nine tracks, but the extra rhythm never overpowers Khan’s sleek, delicate originals and well-picked interpretations.

“Cosecha lo Que Has Sembrado” opens the floor for Irizarry, Quintero and DeJohnette to each take a solo over a vamp, while Quintero nearly steals the show in “You Stepped Out of a Dream.” A medley of Wayne Shorter’s “Sanctuary” and “Nefertiti” finds Patitucci’s bass and Badrena’s wordless vocals taking the melody of the former before the whole group comes in for the latter. Along with Herbie Hancock’s “Riot,” Ornette Coleman’s “Congeniality” and Thelonious Monk’s “Eronel,” the group hits its stride on Khan’s infectious “El Viñon.”

In fact the only low point is a rather big one: the 18-minute title track. The core quintet plays strongly, but the music never seems to connect or progress into something that doesn’t sound like warm-ups for the main event.