Considering that legendary new age guitarist and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman and his production partner, keyboardist Tom Eaton, have literally recorded hundreds of incredible acoustic new age and jazz projects at their Imaginary Road Studios, we best listen when Ackerman touts guitarist Todd Mosby’s all at once pin drop exquisite, playfully rollicking and sonically ambient and spacious album Aerial Views as one of the most brilliant recordings he has ever been associated with.
From the infectious, breezy jazz melody of “Gliding” (featuring Premik Tubbs’ lilting soprano sax deep in conversation with Mosby’s electric imrat guitar) through the gleefully percussive, high spirited closing track “Shining Lights” (spotlighting the ethereal lead vocals of Lola Christine), the 12-track collection continues two very powerful threads running throughout Mosby’s artistry. With songs created thematically to reflect the feeling of air and air travel – influenced in part by Mosby’s childhood experiences co-piloting his father’s plane - Aerial Views is the third in a series of concept albums (after Eagle Mountain and Open Waters) centered around natural elements.
It’s also the latest of the award-winning artist’s works to reflect his deep, lengthy immersion in Indian music, which includes a 13 year disciplined study of classical North Indian technique, raag and philosophy in the Imdad Khan gharana tradition. A hypnotic swirl of these influences and elements shine throughout, whether Mosby is strumming gently over a hypnotic ambient percussive groove (“Aether,” “Into Starlight”) or loping over a lively beat with sitar-like string modulations (“Earth & Sky,” “Between the Clouds”).
His ensemble of greats include Tubbs (who also plays lap steel and wind synth), violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassists Tony Levin and Michael Manring and drummer Jerry Marotta, with Eaton on Rhodes and piano. Mosby takes his Indian influences one step further in complementing his acoustic and electric guitars with a new instrument (and powerful lead artistic voice) called the Imrat guitar. Released in 2019 and designed by sitar player Imrat Khan, Mosby and luthier Kim Shwartz, it’s an 18 stringed hybrid instrument that bridges the sounds of Eastern and Western music and allows for subtle and melodic phrasing characteristic of the sitar and the modal chord harmonies of jazz.
All these stirring details make Mosby’s music seem revolutionary, but even if you are unaware of them, you can still enjoy the graceful, organic and slightly exotic chill flow that makes this one of the year’s most dazzling instrumental collections.