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Noshir Mody: Stories from The Years of Living Passionately (2014)

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Noshir Mody: Stories from The Years of Living Passionately A random sampling of Stories from The Years of Living Passionately could easily leave the impression that this is a hybrid of cool jazz, classical and world music. Even that broad an assumption would not be a comprehensive representation of Indian born Noshir Mody's complex, multi-layered collection of original music. A self-taught guitarist, he can invoke playing styles as diverse as Lee Ritenour
Lee Ritenour
Lee Ritenour
b.1952
guitar
, Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
or John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
b.1944
guitar
yet his distinctive sound reveals no particular adherence to a form of playing or composing. Stories from The Years of Living Passionately comprises of pieces that are frequently reflective but with a force that resurfaces throughout the collection.

Mody's finely-tuned quintet greatly benefits from the presence of pianist Carmen Staaf
Carmen Staaf
b.1981
piano
. The 2009 winner of the Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
1910 - 1981
piano
Women in Jazz Pianist Competition, she has performed as a guest soloist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
, and has worked with bassist Henry Grimes
Henry Grimes
Henry Grimes
b.1935
bass, acoustic
, trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
1929 - 2011
trombone
, and saxophonist George Garzone
George Garzone
George Garzone
b.1950
sax, tenor
. Drummer and Japanese native Yutaka Uchida
Yutaka Uchida
Yutaka Uchida
b.1973
drums
received noteworthy marks as leader on Living Together (Self-produced, 2007). Bassist John Lenis is no stranger to global guitar jazz having performed on Nobuki Takamen
Nobuki Takamen
b.1977
guitar
's Live at the Iridium (Summit Records, 2010). Rounding out the group is relative newcomer, saxophonist Tsuyoshi Niwa.

Stories from The Years of Living Passionately consists of five long pieces, the shortest being just under ten minutes. Mody allows each to unfold at a leisurely pace but the layers created by the quintet—individually and collectively—maintain and peak interest as the narratives play out. Opening with "The Next Chapter" Niwa's soprano gives way to a head-turning Latin infused romp from Staaf after which Mody picks up the theme, further improvising on it. Much of the early going on "Beckoned by Mercury" is a showcase for Niwa's technical capabilities but again, it is Staaf, whose lyricism and percussive effects emboldens the piece. The common thread in the first two pieces is Uchida's ability to direct the action flawlessly while maneuvering through multiple themes and tempos.

Staaf's classically influenced opening to "India," the sixteen-plus minute centerpiece of Stories from The Years of Living Passionately sets the stage for impressive performances all around. Mody's virtuosity and a fine Lenis solo precede a slightly discordant reset as multiple diversions appear unexpectedly. The album is fine example of impressionism with a distinctive style and an intriguing improvisational approach. The compositions and the musicianship, particularly Mody and Staaf, is first rate and as a whole Stories from The Years of Living Passionately is involving and engaging.


Track Listing: The Next Chapter; Beckoned By Mercury; India; A Pearl Discovers The Oyster; To Be in Your Thoughts.

Personnel: Noshir Mody: guitar; Tsuyoshi Niwa: soprano saxophone; Carmen Staaf: piano; John Lenis: bass; Yutaka Uchida: drums.

Record Label: Self Produced


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