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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

Reza Khan Album "Mystical" Review

Artist: Reza Khan

Album: Mystical

Released: 2024

Reza Khan serves up contemporary smooth jazz guitar and adult contemporary instrumental music at the highest level. He burst onto the scene with his 2009 debut Painted Diaries and has had a steady output since then. He has worked with some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz while developing a fascinating trademark fusion of pop, jazz, soul and world influences. His empowering world jazz guitar music is steeped in his international roots and status as a socially conscious musical citizen of the world. Along the way, the Bangladesh-born, NYC-based composer and guitarist has enjoyed several breakthrough hits on the Billboard Jazz chart, including his first Top Ten single “Drop of Faith” (featuring Nils) from his critically acclaimed fifth album Next Train Home and “Waiting for the Sky” from the 2021 collection Imaginary Road.

This latest release titled Mystical, is a ten song set that features some of the biggest players in the contemporary jazz scene including Jeff Lorber, David Mann, Bob James, Phillippe Saisse, Nils and Keiko Matsui. The production on the album is top shelf with subtle colors sprinkled throughout that pop with a good headphone listen. One of the things that makes this type of groove based  jazz so listenable is the patience that mature musicians bring to the music. There isn't an overwhelming need to show the listener their considerable chops at every turn, but instead choosing taste within the context of the classy musicianship.

The first single Language of Love features the legendary piano man Bob James. Inviting Mr. James to play on a cut is never a bad idea and this one lands perfectly. The subtle nylon string guitar lines dance gracefully over the changes the band is laying down with style and conviction. This was a great choice as the first single. It is funky and recorded at the perfect tempo. It captures all the ingredients that make for a hit in the smooth jazz world today!

The very next track Catalina's Dream features the great Phillippe Saisse. It is quite obvious what attracts so many great musicians to guest on this album. The songs are simply solid compositions that are performed eloquently by all involved. The rhythm section, consisting of bassist Mel Brown and drummer Brian Dunne lay down a serious groove on this one. The bass line is busy, but perfect. There are not many musicians that can be as busy as this and still manage to pocket it so tactfully. Bass legend Donald "Duck" Dunn comes to mind when I hear this track. I am glad the bass was mixed hot enough in the mix to shine through.

Strum is a track that is one of my favorites. This one features another master pianist, Keiko Matsui. It has a Fourplay feel to it in the sense that there is no one standout star, but a fantastic ensemble. It feels like the band is stretching a bit from the smooth jazz genre's go to moves and just enjoying the moment.  The spotlight is evenly distributed across the entirety of the more than competent band. They are all pillars in their supporting rolls and then shine brightly when the torch is passed for them to run with for a few bars.  It is the sum of its parts that make this song a stand out track amongst ten really great tracks.

This album is a must hear if you are a fan of instrumental adult contemporary guitar based music. I hesitate to call it smooth jazz as it seems to have a bit more of a world music vibe. It certainly has a foot firmly planted in the smooth jazz world but somehow feels bigger than that. The playing across the entirety of the album is masterful. The songs are concise and well crafted. The list of featured artists and guests is a testament to the quality of the release. Birds of a feather flock together as they say, and this is an impressive flock of musicians coming together on a project that deserves attention.

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1 Comment

Mar 05

 Reza Khan is an awesome guitarist!

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