Severely dehydrated from the oppressive heat during his travels from Mali to Uganda, Reza Khan was hospitalized after collapsing in a United Nations office. To avoid the lengthy hospitalization prescribed by doctors, he convinced them that he would recover faster if he was ensconced in a hotel room instead. During that five-day stay, he broke out his portable guitar and wrote the title track for his fifth album, “Next Train Home,” which drops April 5.
The New York City-based, Bangladesh-born Khan serves as program manager for the UN, contributing to peace and conflict operations throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. During the six-week trek abroad, he wrote the twelve songs for the album, recording the conceptual ideas on his laptop using a folding guitar and a simple keyboard that he travels within his backpack. After experimenting with rock, pop, world music, and soul-jazz over the course of his first four albums, Khan believes that composing the music for “Next Train Home” took him in a creative direction that led to his self-discovery as an artist in search of a “home.”
“The title ‘Next Train Home’ represents a destination where I feel totally comfortable and at ease surrounded by familiar sounds, emotions, and conviction as an artist. The ‘Home’ is a testament of a destination as an artist looking for a signature in recognition, style, and branding. After a long soul-searching exercise moving from genre to genre, I feel like I am finally settled as a writer, composer and stylist. Artistic direction found, the destination is identified thus I am ready to take the next train home,” said Khan, who produced the record.
Khan’s musical home is a richly-cultured composite of straight-ahead and contemporary jazz, global beats and rhythms, and a strong Brazilian jazz inflection. When he was deemed healthy enough to return home to New York, Khan enhanced the tracks with a full complement of noted contemporary jazz kingpins: guitarist Nils, saxophonists Jeff Kashiwa and Andy Snitzer, keyboardist Philippe Saisse, pianist Matt King, bassist Mark Egan, horn man David Mann (sax and flute) and percussionist Gumbi Ortiz. Mauricio Zottarelli and Graham Hawthorne shared the drum throne equitably.
“Next Train Home” is a multi-format collection that will be serviced to both jazz and smooth/contemporary jazz outlets for airplay. Khan co-produced the first single, “Drop of Faith” with Nils. It’s an inspirational offering showcasing Khan’s nimble nylon guitar gymnastics on the verses while Nils’s celestial electric guitar illumines the invigorating chorus.
“It’s a song about the courage I used to embark upon this new artistic journey with a smile on my face and sunshine in my eyes. I know I had to trust my instinct and follow my heart,” added Khan, who will celebrate the album release with a May 9 concert date at the City Winery NYC.
Khan was reared in a musical household where the foundation of his musical palette was Indian classical music. Initially a percussionist (tabla), he then studied sitar and sarod before being exposed to - and subsequently falling in love with - pop-rock music (Peter Frampton, Eagles, Grand Funk, and America). That’s when he switched to guitar, embracing the recordings of Pat Metheny and other contemporary jazz guitar greats. After forming a band called Yours Truly in Bangladesh where they sold more than 500,000 albums, Khan shelved his musical muse in favor of his fledgling path in international relations. In time, he found a way to indulge both passions, dropping his first solo disc, “Painted Diaries,” in 2008. Subsequent releases followed – “A Simple Plan” (2011), “The Dreamwalker” (2013) and “Wind Dance” (2016) – and a few years ago, Khan returned to the stage. Playing shows for sold-out crowds at venerable New York City venues and at a variety of festivals, his eclectic resume of gigs boasts playing in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Las Vegas, San Diego, Dubai, and Kuwait. Khan has cultivated a devout East Coast fanbase that he aims to spread west with the arrival of “Next Train Home.”
“Next Train Home” contains the following songs:
“Drop of Faith” featuring Nils
“Gathering” featuring Jeff Kashiwa and Philippe Saisse
“It’s About Time” featuring Jeff Kashiwa and Matt King
“Beyond the Trees” featuring Andy Snitzer
“Zero Tolerance” featuring Philippe Saisse and David Mann
“Club 368” featuring David Mann
“Plutonik” featuring Philippe Saisse
“Cloud Nine” featuring Andy Snitzer
“Under the Moon” featuring David Mann
“Next Train Home” featuring Mark Egan and Matt King