Missouri Music unfolds like a musical travelogue across a broad and intriguing landscape, with the Mosby Group making pit stops along the way to pick up elements of folk, jazz, fusion, rock, funk and world music.
“Missouri Strut” gets the album off to a quick start, as leader Todd Ferris Mosby offers a shower of white-hot thoughts on the guitar. Adam Maness’ turn on the Fender Rhodes, and not for the first time, has a cooling effect — and that mixture gives the song, and this album, a fizzy sense of musical tension. Together, they make sure that Missouri Music, a project meant to raise awareness and aid in Missouri Current River Watershed land purchases by the Nature Conservancy, never stays in one place for long.
On tracks like “Missouri Country Song,” the lead the group toward a spacious, Pat Metheny-style vista. Then with “Long Way Home” (which is powered along with a martial insistence by drummer Ron Carr), the Mosby Group simply floors it — racing forward with a thrilling propulsion. Mosby explores a twilit rumination on the solo acoustic piece “Missouri Folk Song I,” before the rest of the group — which also includes bassist Carl Caspersen, with additional percussion on Missouri Music by Henry Claude — joins in to establish an endlessly inviting groove “Missouri Folk Song II.” Later, with Part III, they return with a sharpened cadence, echoing a driver’s steely determination over a long haul.
“Milt’s Tilt” and “Green and Blue,” both these pastoral delights, represent the peacefulness of a wide open space. Meanwhile, the bluesier “Missouri New Day” and Maness’ “Missouri Mouse” (the lone cut here not composed by Mosby himself) explore bumpier side roads. Finally, there’s the quietly conveyed “Colorado, Missouri,” which thrums with all of the warm emotion of homecoming.