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Album Review: Mystical
Reza Khan
Cover image of the album Mystical by Reza Khan
Reza Khan
2024 / Painted Media
48 minutes
Review by Michael Debbage
Bangladesh born, New York raised jazz guitarist Reza Khan has been recording impressive music as far back as 2008 that began with his strong debut Painted Diaries with Bangladesh-NYC roots seeping into his musical landscape. Overtime, Reza has slowly slipped over to the mainstream flow and needless to say Mystical once again steps up that gradual conversation making his latest recording oozing in the world of Smooth Jazz.

The first comparisons that come to mind are a tribrid powerhouse of The Rippingtons meets Bob James while hanging out with George Benson. But to say that this is all there is about Reza Khan would only be a short sell of this jazz musician. While some of the worldly influence has diminished the counter side is that Reza Khan is clearly continuing his integration into the mainstream world with his most significant commercial effort to date. So much so that while Reza Khan has been more than capable of producing himself, this time around he has handed over the production reins to producer/keyboard player David Mann.

The album opens up with the silky smooth seduction of “Falcon” with Khan’s delicate guitar bouncing off the delectable piano work of Jeff Lorber. Add the title track that immediately follows, the album starts off with a one two punch but on the title track it is Khan’s guitar work that is up front and center complimented by soprano saxophone embellishments from David Mann. Without a breathe to take, Khan gives us the toe tapper “Language Of Love” only this time to feature him musically dancing toe to toe with the great piano work of Bob James.

Thinking this must be the pinnacle point of the album, Reza keeps pulling off surprise after surprise but this time digging from his past and putting a wonderfully refurbished and more invigorated version of “Catalina’s Dream” first featured on his debut Painted Diaries. Here Khan’s airy guitar work flirts with the perfect piano performance of Philippe Saisse.

Speaking of invigorating, let’s fast forward to the almost danceable “Look At The Bright Side” with a focus on Reza’s guitar work which simply sizzles and really takes off but not at the expense of the song’s framework. Add the rhythmic interplay of Mark Egan’s smooth groove bass with Mann’s soprano saxophone performance, and then this would certainly explain the song title “Positivity”. Counter this with the soft sway of the sublime closer “Whispering Tree” this unfortunately brings this beautiful album to a close.

From the super smooth glide in stride opening track “Falcon” to the exquisite closer “Whispering Tree”, Mystical is full of many magical melodic moments after moment with no filler in sight. Over his last few titles, Reza Khan has been leaning more and more mainstream and this time around he has made a full commitment to that mission. It is a mystery as to why Reza Khan has yet to have a breakaway record but Mystical in all its awe and fascination has all the ingredients to finally make this happen.
June 22, 2024
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