Keyboardist and percussionist Luis Muñoz thinks with an open palette of sound. His aural vision embraces a wide spectrum of color and tone texture, from the sophisticated rough and tumble of trance-like Afro-centric ritual music to the delightful swing of idiomatic phrases that spring from the joyous spirit of jazz. He also draws from habanera, calypso, tangos and rondos, and from European ecclesiastical music and the heartfelt emotion of gospel. There may be other composers and musicians who "hear" music like Muñoz, but his background in spatial geometry enables him to see the sound of music sitting on virtual lines and between spaces. This is why his musicespecially on Invisiblesounds as close to breathing as notes could ever get.
Perhaps this is why Muñoz is able to create such tactile music. It is if reaching out means not just encountering its heart and soul through the textures and shades of sound, but also feeling its warmth as the hand encounters its silken flesh. The surprise is that Muñoz's music can be cerebral and yet echo with dancing, trembling feeling. Invisible is about life hidden in the pale. It is about the dispossessed and vulnerablechild, man and woman. Yet it is also about hope and the triumph of human endeavor. This extends from end to end of this album and not simply in the 5:27 minutes of "Esperanza," although that beautiful song is a reminder that in the everyday blues of Central and South America hope springs eternal.
A characteristic of the music on Invisible is that its notesmelodies and harmoniestumble as if they were accompanying a moving image of life as it traverses through dusty bowls and verdant forests teeming with life. The music sways and shuffles across soundscapes as ethereal as that on "Adam's Dream," which tracks the proverbial story of humankind's fall from grace, the casting adrift of a dispossessed folk, and the feeling of loss on the solemn "Sobrevivencia," the mysticism of "De Alma y Sombra," and the singular rhythmic and harmonic artfulness of "Tango Y Sangre de la Media Noche." Throughout the album, Muñoz avoids direct use of folkloric forms, although the spirit and mood of many earthy rhythms of Africa and South America ever so subtly inhabit the shadows of the music's rhythm.
Throughout the pageant of Invisible there is a sense of simple joy and triumph. This is poignantly implied in "Luz del Sur" and "Esperanza," and in the magnificent abandon of "Malabarista" and "Manantial." The master stroke is one of production, not in the mechanical, "techie" sense, but in the assembly of musicians with abundant ideas and inventive interpretative skills, and, as they dance around the band's instrumental interplay, impart the sadness and joy that underline the songs on the album. This is how the music comes aliveat the hands of Ramses Araya's batas, the lonesome sound of Jonathan Dane's trumpet, Tom Etchart's basses, Chris Judge's guitar and the playnig of a host of other stellar musicians, gathered to express the music under the masterful direction of Luis Muñoz and his myriad instruments.
Tracks: Adam's Dream; Luz del Sur; Sobrevivencia; Hymn; De Alma y Sombra; Malabarista; Esperanza; Manantial; Tango y Sangre de la Media Noche.
Personnel: Luis Muñoz: piano (1-4, 6, 9), Fender Rhodes (8), synthesizer (1), drums (1, 2, 4-6, 8), cajón (1, 2), caxixi (1, 2), bombo legüero (1, 2), djembe (1), chekere (2, 3), percussion (3, 6, 8), tama (3), alto flute (9), pad (9); Ramses Araya: bata drums (1, 3), cajó, cymbals, bongos (6, 8); Jonathan Dane: trumpet (1, 2, 6, 9); Jeff Elliott: trumpet (6); Tom Etchart: fretless bass (1, 6), electric bass (4, 8), acoustic bass (3, 5, 7, 9); George Friedenthal: piano ( 1, 2, 5), pad (2, 6,); Adam Asarnow: piano (3); Narisco Sotomayor: electric guitars (1, 8); Nico Abondolo: acoustic bass (2); Robert Clements: chekere (2); Bill Flores: pedal steel guitar (2); Gilberto González: acoustic guitar (2) John Nathan: marimba (2); David Binny : alto saxophone (3); Justin Claveria: tenor saxophone (6); Brad Dutz: quinto (3), percussion (3), marimba (6); Jimmy Calire: Hammond B3 Organ; Lois Mahalia: lead vocals (4), background vocals (4, 8); Chris Judge: acoustic guitar (5), classical guitar (7); Ron Kalina: chromatic harmonica (8); Teka Pendiriche: lead, background vocals (8); Andy Zúñiga: background vocals; Laura Hackstein: violin (9); George Quirin: acoustic guitar.