Mumbai, India born, NYC based guitarist Noshir Mody had a lot to celebrate in the first half of 2023, following the Best Global Music Album Grammy for multi-instrumentalist Masa Takumi’s Sakura (on which the guitarist was a featured artist) with A Love Song – a simply titled five track set that offers one of the jazz world’s most compelling and emotionally impactful reflections on love and life during the pandemic era.
A spiritual sequel of sorts to his socially conscious An Idealist’s Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 – released just a few months into lockdown – the collection is a showcase not only for his ultra-melodic and deeply intricate guitarisma, but also for the explosive improvisational virtuosity of members of his ensemble. On the cautiously optimistic opener “What Tomorrow May Bring” – reflecting Mody’s emotional state upon returning to a very different COVID impacted city – he sensually intertwines his strings with the nimble, expressive flugelhorn of Benjamin Hankle before taking a graceful backseat and allowing Hankle to run with the emotional thrust of the tune.
The same melodic and harmonic guitar/horn dynamic also animates both the wafting atmospheres and ever-intensifying electricity of “Mystic,” a tribute to the charming Connecticut town of that name. Hankle appears early on in a wistful visit to “The Yards” (crafted as an homage to the Hudson Yards neighborhood), but the dreamy, meditational song rightly belongs to Mody and the heartfelt musings of his pianist Campbell Charshee – with some of Ronen Itzik’s dramatic drum solo bustle towards the end.
After hypnotically exploring the reality of the time that we were all “In The Absence of Answers” (a pretty, piano-guitar driven reflection coaxed along by the subtle double basslines of Yuka Tadano, the set’s closing title song aims the spotlight on the sultry-voiced Kate Victor, who amidst a subtly propulsive rhythm, delivers poetic wisdom we can take with us on our journey forth: “The fragrance of friends/Lost and won/Draped over your shoulders/An armor for the future wars of love…”