To impartially assess Imaginary Road,
Bangladeshi-raised, New York-based guitarist Reza Khan
's sixth album, it is best to lay aside as best one can his disposition for or against what could reasonably be labeled "smooth jazz" and start from there. Is the music melodically and rhythmically likeable? Yes, it is. Are the musicians technically able? Yes, they are.
Beyond that, what can be said? Well, the ten songs are essentially atmospheric, depicting the sort of aural landscapes that Khan obviously had in mind (he wrote and arranged every number for an ensemble that is heavy on strings and percussion with occasional incursions from David Mann
on saxophone or flute and Matt King
on piano). If there is a middle-to far-Eastern ambience, that is understandable, given Khan's heritage. It is especially discernible in the undulating rhythms, capably overseen for the most part by drummer Maurizio Zottarelli and percussionist Fernando Saci
. Khan governs the melodies along with Mann, guitarists Sergio Pereira
and Miles Gilderdale, and Philippe Saisse
on mallets, melodion and Moog synthesizer. The sounds they produce, if not exceptional, are uniquely their own, as are Khan's ethereal, gently flowing compositions.
Improvisations, albeit random, are invariably engaging, with King and Mann doing some nice work whenever the need arises and Khan (apparently) making an occasional candid statement (although some of them may be delivered courtesy of Pereira or Gilderdale). And if the ears don't misread, it sounds like there's a (mysterious) background chorus on the closing "Imaginary Road." Perhaps an imaginary chorale on that road? As for the songs that precede it, they are pleasant enough without giving rise to any enduring fondness, akin to but perhaps a step or so removed from the music emanating from a shopping mall sound system near you. Even so, Khan and his mates are performing the music they favor, aimed toward a receptive audience, one to whom any review, affirmative or ungracious, will remain largely irrelevant.
Waiting for the Sky; Neo Funk; I See Stars; La Liaison; Midnight Runner; Broken River;
Seven Miles Road; It’s Happening; Somewhere East; Imaginary Road.