Review by Scott Yanow
Noshir Mody's Stories From The Years Of Living Passionately
A top-notch jazz and fusion guitarist, Noshir Mody composes picturesque originals that are impossible to classify as anything but high-quality modern jazz. Born in India and having moved to the New York area in 1995, Mody has a thoughtful style, an attractive tone on the guitar, and his own way of creating and building up solos.
Stories From The Years Of Living Passionately features Mody with an excellent quintet that includes Tsuyoshi Niwa on soprano, pianist Carmen Staaf, bassist John Lenis and drummer Yutaka Uchida. The guitarist’s five originals, which are fully explored (only one piece is under 11 minutes long), bring out the best in the musicians.
The songs are as colorful as their titles. “The Next Chapter" has some playful soprano sax, fine solos for piano and guitar, and a rhythmic section that builds in power and tension as it progresses before cooling down for the closing melody.
“Beckoned By Mercury," which starts with unaccompanied bass, has a pretty melody played by soprano and guitar in unison. Mody’s guitar playing on this piece is a bit exotic a la Gabor Szabo while pianist Staaf hints a little at Chick Corea. This melodic original deserves to be covered by other musicians.
“India" is a laidback but rhythmic piece in which Mody displays some intriguing chord voicings. The performance is nearly 17 minutes long but the groove and the solos are so irresistible that the time passes quickly.
“A Pearl Discovers The Oyster," which is played in 5/4, gives each of the musicians (other than Niwa) an opportunity to solo including Uchida who takes some fine drum breaks. The closer, “To Be In Your Thoughts," is peaceful but lightly danceable. As on the other performances, the sound of the ensembles is atmospheric.
While the music on Stories From The Years Of Living Passionately would make for an ideal soundtrack for one’s thoughts, a close listen reveals plenty of dynamic interplay, an original group sound, and superior musicianship. It is highly recommended.
Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists, The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76