Of your six albums, "Mystic Journey" is the only one I've experienced. Azar, I've been a jazz journalist for awhile, and a blogger going on three years. I told a friend, who was shocked how many jazz album I haven't heard, that I'd have to live nine more lives to hear all the jazz albums available. Jazz has a vast history, so I will always be playing catch up. I get excited when I discover jazz musicians I never heard before. Since I started this jazz blog, my jazz knowledge has grown.
The first time I played "Mystic Journey" I was convinced you had channeled the spirit of tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. I read Coltrane influenced you, and his pianist, McCoy Tyner, mentored you. I can only imagine the stories Tyner shared with you about his days with Coltrane.
This morning, I read an article by music journalist Russ Musto on Allaboutjazz.com. Musto discussed your rise as a top saxophonist during the 70's, and how an addiction to cocaine nearly ruined you. Musto observed you started making big money performing with the likes of Phyllis Hyman and Earth, Wind and Fire you lost your way. Thank God, those dark days are behind you. Nowadays, you're blowing better than ever according to the reviews about "Mystic Journey".
Azar, you sound like a spiritualist throughout “Mystic Journey”. You blew with such force on the title cut, and “Starting Point,” I thought your horn was going to explode in your hands. On the ballad "Say It Over Again," your cushy phrasing reminded me of Coltrane's album "Ballads".
You assembled some fine talent as well. Pianist Benito Gonzalez stood out the most. Like McCoy Tyner, Gonzalez is percussive, so I get why you recruited him. He makes his band-mates shine. In 2007, I heard him with alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. (Garrett is fond of percussive pianist, too.) They turned out the Detroit International Jazz Festival. I raved about Gonzalez soloing for months.
The late drummer Rashied Ali contribution was felt also. He pushed to unexplored heights. The album would not have been much of a journey without him, and trumpeter Eddie Henderson who playing is still vigorous. "Mystic Journey" is so good I'm going to trackdown your other albums.