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Carli Munoz: Maverick

Carli Munoz

A lot of piano players put out their own records these days, but not many hire Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette to fill out the trio, bring in David Sanchez and Don Byron for guest appearances, and provide excellent recorded sound and a classy CD package.

Carli Munoz was born in Puerto Rico, spent 16 years on the Los Angeles rock scene (including 11 with the Beach Boys) and sounds absolutely real playing jazz. He has a crisp attack, a distinctive piano sonority and the unexpected phrasing and note choices of the autodidact. He also plays hard at all tempos. His own tunes are promising frameworks for improvisation, and his covers work. He is constitutionally upbeat yet can genuinely confront the despair of “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” sings because Munoz’s touch makes piano notes pop like small explosions.

You can’t lose by bringing Gomez and DeJohnette into your rhythm section, but there is a risk to adding Sanchez and Byron for only one tune apiece: the album might not survive their departures. While Sanchez and Byron smoke their cameo appearances, Munoz’s trio is strong enough that we hardly miss them when they’re gone.

Originally Published