Noshir Mody: An Idealist’s Handbook: Identity, Love And Hope In America 2020


Self-taught guitarist Noshir Mody brings us his fifth album, one brimming with philosophical and hopeful lyrics alongside some beautifully inventive jazz solos.

Born and raised in Bombay, India, Mody moved to New York when he was 22; since then, he has spent 25 years developing into the talented guitarist and composer he is today. An Idealist’s Handbook displays a different side of Mody, stepping away from the fusion material he is best known for as leader of the EthniFusion Rock Ensemble and EthniFusion Jazz Ensemble.

The album begins with Radha, which Mody describes as a tribute to an immortal and traditional love story from India. This melodic, smooth and easy-going track features abundant brass, giving a sharp and metallic quality to the sound. It develops strong foundations through the subtle layering of complementary piano chords, concluding in a moment of beautiful unity towards the end of the track.

Mody’s Sketchings, dotted throughout this album, showcase his raw talent as a guitarist. The first of these, Sketching “Illusions Grow” is hypnotically relaxing, despite its complexities; it celebrates the beauty that is found in simplicity. This track then melts into the third track of the album, Illusions Grow. Here, Kate Victor contributes to the album for the first time with her pretty vocals, floating above the rich chords beneath her. These nostalgic lyrics are based on what Mody would say to his younger self if given the opportunity. The message, conveyed through an endearingly innocent melody, notes how illusions may come and go, but love is truth.

The journey from the sketch of Ol’ Splitfoot to the real track is unnoticed and slick. Mody’s guitar improvisations grow in intensity and passion as the track unfolds. However, for me it is Under A Starlit Sky, an instrumental epic, that surprises the most with its gradual build before sudden resolution at its conclusion. In An Idealist’s Handbook Mody displays a highly individual sound on the guitar through eyes of renewed imagination.

Radha; Sketching “Illusions Grow”; Illusions Grow; Sketching “Ol’ Splitfoot”; Ol’ Splitfoot; Illustrating “Rise”; Sketching “Under A Starlit Sky (2020)”; Under A Starlit Sky (2020); Rise; Illusions Grow (Reprise) (46.40)
Mody (elg, g); Kate Victor (v); Mike Mullan (as, ts); Benjamin Hankle (t, flh); Campbell Charshee (p); Yuka Tadano (b , elb); Jarrett Walser (d). USA, June 2020.