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Review by Dodie Miller-Gould

Noshir Mody’s newest album expands minds; musical horizons

Review by Dodie Miller-Gould

Bombay, India-born Noshir Mody has had an interesting foray into creative music since moving to New York City in 1995. The guitarist has released recordings as a solo artist and as part of ensembles. His solo album, “In This World With You,” and his release with a trio, “Union of Hearts,” and his quintet’s “Stories From the Years of Living Passionately,” all showcased Mody’s impressionistic and creative approach to expressing himself. He has also played with The EthniFusion Rock Ensemble and The EthniFusion Jazz Ensemble. Mody’s varied experiences have led to his latest release, “A Burgeoning Consciousness.” The album will be available May 11, 2018.

“A Burgeoning Consciousness” by Noshir Mody

Even if Mody’s album was titled something else, most listeners would get the impression of a broadening mindset or horizon just from hearing the opening song. The track has a certain gravitas without feeling overbearing. The album overall appears to be a brief set of six songs, however, upon closer inspection, audiences would find that the songs themselves are anything but brief. The songs’ running time range from just under 10 minutes to more than 15 minutes. Clearly, there is nothing here that is rushed and traditionally packaged. Audiences looking for flash will not find it on “A Burgeoning Consciousness.” But, a lack of “flash” does not mean a lack of style, talent or creativity.

The other aspect of the album that potential audiences should notice is a lack of title track. It is as though each song is allowed to contribute its own ideas to the soundscape.

The players on this release are Mody on guitar, Mike Mullan on tenor and alto saxophone, Benjamin Hankle on trumpet and flugelhorn, Campbell Charshee on piano, John Lenis on bass and Yutaka Uchida on drums.

“Secrets of the Wood and Stone” by Noshir Mody

Probably one of the greatest achievements of this song is its ability to evoke nature, movement, and consciousness without sounding like stereotypical New Age jazz. The soundscape is rich with saxophone. The horn sound seems to dominate the song, but it doesn’t merely make notes in an unfeeling way. Instead, the music that is created sounds like the movement of clouds across the sky. It is as though listeners are invited to think another way.

“Reconciling Loss” by Noshir Mody

Poignant guitar notes sound almost lonely as they play at the beginning of the song. The notes are alone in the soundscape until the saxophone joins in. The timbre of the guitar sound changes just a bit. The song’s arrangement has elements of rock fusion, pop, and jazz. Mody has discovered ways to arrange songs so that the instruments have a conversation of sorts, and that is what happens on “Reconciling Loss.”

There is a gentleness, a beauty that elevates the song beyond stereotypes of smooth jazz or New Age jazz, but that allows it to retain its mind-opening quality. Halfway through, a traditional jazz piano motif strikes up, complete with high notes that tinkle clear against the civilized thunder of the upright bass and drums. In addition, the guitar weaves itself into the mix of sound. For a song that refers to loss, the song sounds joyous in the middle, until almost the end, wherein poignant notes not just of the guitar, but of flugelhorn, too, play against an increasingly quieting soundscape. It is then that listeners can remember that this is a song about loss.

Mody’s “A Burgeoning Consciousness” is full of beauty and thoughtful arrangements. Listeners might not be looking for jazz with such big themes, but the way such ideas are presented here, they might not mind them.

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