American jazz guitarist Steve Khan has been mostly acknowledged for his synthesis records, but there have been instances when he has proved that he can also play more standard and conventional. Interestingly, Steve Khan, son of lyricist Sammy Cahn, at first played piano and drums, and took up the guitar at the age of 20.

According to Steve, during his days as a teenager, he was a terrible drummer with no musical training. And Steve developed a love for the guitar, and when he was 19, soon switched instruments. At this juncture, he was determined that he wouldn’t commit the same mistakes that he had made with the drums. Consequently, Steve studied hard in college along with private lessons in guitar from Ron Anthony.

Steve Khan
Steve Khan

Having graduated from U.C.L.A. in 1969, Steve Khan shifted to New York and worked progressively in jazz, pop, and R&B settings. He played with other artistes including Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, the Brecker Brothers, Joe Zawinul's Weather Update, and with fellow guitarist Larry Coryell.

Steve started his musical career with his birth name, but soon found it was misspelled all the time and hence picked out Khan just because it fascinated him and was more distinguishing. It was many years later when Steve discovered that his father had been born Sammy Cohen, but took Cahn as a "pen name."

Steve performed in one of the first contemporary jazz guitar duos with Larry Coryell in 1974. And during this time, he also became a top member of the Brecker Bros. Band. Steve’s first recordings as a leader were a trio of albums for Columbia Records. These recordings featured Michael and Randy Brecker, David Sanborn, Don Grolnick, Will Lee, Steve Gadd, Mike Mainieri and others and were well received by all.

In fact, Steve Khan is acknowledged for his work with contemporary artists like Steely Dan, Billy Joel, Michael Franks, Hubert Laws, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, James Brown, Maynard Ferguson, and Weather Report. In 1977, he was in Japan with the CBS Jazz All Stars in Japan and managed a group called ‘Eyewitness’. This band included popular musicians like Steve Jordan, Anthony Jackson and Manolo Badrena.

Several years later, in 1981, he reorganized the quartet band ‘Eyewitness’ that performed occasionally all through the 1980s. Steve Khan's most fascinating recordings are a 1980 solo exploration of ’Thelonious Monk’ tunes for Novus and a trio jaunt for Bluemoon named ‘Let's Call This’ in 1991.

In August 1998, Steve once again toured Japan as a member of Dave Samuels' "Tribute to Cal Tjader" Group. The tour was a tremendous success and it was decided that Steve, Dave Samuels and Dave Valentin would become the co-leaders of the renewed Caribbean Jazz Project. Since its setting up, the group untiringly toured Europe, South and Central America, and the United States. Nevertheless, Steve quit the group in January 2002 citing "creative differences".

While we're on the subject, Steve Khan has also authored five books on jazz music. And they include ‘Pentatonic Khancepts’, ‘Contemporary Chord Khancepts’, ‘The Wes Montgomary Guitar Folio’, ‘Pat Martino - The Early Years’, and ‘Guitar Workshop Series’. Steve Khan’s "Borrowed Time" was nominated for the 50th Grammy Awards in 2007 in the Best Latin Jazz Album (vocal or instrumental) category.



  • 1976 - Sometime Other Than Now
  • 1977 - Two For the Road
  • 1977 - Tightrope
  • 1978 - Alivemutherforya
  • 1978 - The Blue Man
  • 1979- Arrows
  • 1980 - The Best of Steve Khan
  • 1980 - Evidence
  • 1981 - Eyewitness
  • 1982 - Modern times
  • 1983 - Casa Loco
  • 1987 - Local Color
  • 1987 - Helping Hand
  • 1989 - Public Access
  • 1991 - Let's Call This
  • 1992 - Headline
  • 1994 - The Collection
  • 1994 - The Crossings
  • 1996 - Got My Mental
  • 1997 - You Are Here
  • 2000 - New
  • 2001 - Paraiso
  • 2005 - The Green Field
  • 2007 - Borrowed Time
  • 2007 - The Suitcase