|By Winthrop Bedford – Jazz Improv Magazine
This latest album release from pianist Carli Muñoz assembles a superb band of stylistically unique players performing a collection of originals by the leader, and several Great American standards.
It is a big, deep, dark, rumbling opening chord. That's what Carli plays to open the first track, “Maverick.” No tempo – for the moment. The opening gives way to the unexpected. Tenor saxophonist David Sanchez states the initial eight measures of the melody, played twice, backed only by drummer Jack DeJohnette. The melody is still dark. Bass and piano enter, with tenor and piano playing a second and quite different section – one that is quite upbeat and colorful – a distinct contrast to the first solo. If you didn't know Eddie Gomez was the bassist, you will pick up his signature sound and phrasing instantly. Carli takes a second solo spot.
(...) Carli demonstrates a depth and diversity of musical understanding, and creativity, bolstered by his ample technique. Right away, we sense his solid sense of time, and well developed ability to swing and float above the rhythm section. Sanchez sound turns in a commanding solo, full of glitter, not glitz.
Muñoz plays an out of tempo opening to the classic “You Don't Know What Love Is.” It is a magnificent song. The tempo is laid back – ideal for the kind of interplay between the bass, and drums (DeJohnette colors the music with signature cymbalwork). Muñoz demonstrates his light touch, and sensitivity to dynamics. He creates a lush landscape, alternating between linear ideas and lush chords. Serenity, romance, beautiful sunsets, pensive moments – that's what I feel as I listen to this superb rendition.
The band switches gear into a Latin groove on “Margot,” is a Keith Jarrett composition. Gomez' throbbing bass in tandem with DeJohnette's driving canvas of sound-at once, delicate and powerful – provide the base for Muñoz radiant, toe-tapping solo.
“A Cool Night In The City” is another original by Carli – rendered at a medium groove, primarily with a two-beat feel. His high level of creativity is consistent throughout this album, and this track in no exception. Carli's solos, indeed his music, breathe deeply and healthily. There is an indescribable balance – one that highly developed players express through music. His approach is steeped in the rich history of the grand tradition of this music, and augmented by the lessons of such masters as Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Jarrett and Hancock.
Following two more originals “Katira's Waltz” and the relaxed “Entre Nous,” Carli changes the tempo. “Three Little Steps To Heaven” is a bright, swinging piece. The overall harmonic direction of the song is characterized by movement in major thirds-conceptually, like Coltrane's Giant Steps, but not quite the same. The melody is characterized by stoptime, staccato expression-somewhat like “Seven Steps To Heaven”…but not. (...) It's a fast tempo, but Muñoz floats confidently, turning in several splendid choruses. Don Byron follows on clarinet. His sound is rich. his groove is unmistakably locked-in, and he delivers a commanding solo that on the most basic level simply feels great.
“In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning” is rendered as a ballad – expectedly. More great music. Both Muñoz and Gomez are exceptional here. Kudos to Muñoz for inspiring the best from the eminent, articulate and prolific sidemen that appear with him on his latest album, Maverick . He can take pride in creating an outstanding set of performances on which his commanding musicianship stands on equal footing with that of his lofty associates.