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October 2003

Tisziji Munoz
Divine Radiance
Dreyfus Records

Tisziji Munoz is both mystical and mythological. His music is spiritually based at its core, and he is an artist who has successfully become insular and removed from the world of jazz and contemporary music. On his latest release, Divine Radiance, it is clear again that his self-chosen isolation from the jazz scene is rewarding to the public. Munoz has been prolific over the last few years exploring spiritual themes and experimental music that avoids any limitations. This is, in fact, his ninth album in just four years, and on it his playing is superb always.

From the melodic precision of "Moment of Truth" to the more powerful jams like "Initiation by Fire," Munoz is clever and in command of his musical offerings. "Initiation of Fire" is especially interesting because it seems to invoke Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" in both structure and emotion. With Munoz leading the way through Trane's sacred territory with sharp guitar licks, it seems appropriate that Trane's son, Ravi, is featured on this album, as is Pharoah Sanders. Munoz played in Sanders' band for many years and allows Pharoah enough opportunities here to stretch out in old and new form. Divine Radiance is, in fact, full of well-known, accomplished musicians who are always ready for Munoz's unpredictable moves. Paul Shaffer, a long-time friend of Munoz's and the leader of the Late Show With David Letterman band is here. The other contributors are even more dynamic: drummer Rashied Ali and two bassists, Don Pate and Cecil McBee.

Unlike many guitarists today, Munoz's journey and reach is beyond the music of the Americas or the world. Munoz is exploring the universe and the human spirit.

Originally published in October 2003
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