Carli Mu: Both Sides Now (2003)
The name Eddie Gomez is well known to jazz aficionados since his days as bassist with the great Bill Evans Trio. Few, however, will recognize Carli Muñoz’s name, but to the extent that this CD accurately reflects his pianistic and compositional skills, that situation should not persist for long. Gomez has sufficient respect and appreciation for Muñoz’s playing to produce this second CD for him; his first, entitled Love Tales , featured all his own compositions.
Muñoz hails from Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he owns his own jazz club, the Café Concierto. He is a thoughtful, sensitive and lyrical performer, and this collection is an introspective and contemplative one, which features three original compositions, together with jazz interpretations of a number of less frequently heard popular tunes.
The album opens with a simple original melody that is transposed in three tonal centers, setting a pattern of intuitive dialogue between the two musicians. “As Long As She Needs Me” makes a lovely ballad in 3/4 time; one wonders why it isn’t more often heard. The title tune, written by Joni Mitchell and popularized by Judy Collins, is an interesting, hypnotic blend of jazz and Hindu Raga. Muñoz recently married his wife Katira in a ceremony conducted by Tibetan lamas, and this selection epitomizes the meeting of East and West, not to mention North and Central, as bass improvisation interweaves with Puerto Rican Sicá rhythms.
Gomez plays lovely arco bass on the first chorus of “Be My Love,” which subsequently eases into a gently swinging groove. “Remember Bill” is Muñoz’s original tribute to Bill Evans; joining the trio on this pensive waltz is flautist Jeremy Steig, who also recorded with Evans. Two Latin standards, Consuelo Velásquez’s “Bésame Mucho” and Armando Manzanero’s “Te Extraño,” leaven the playlist; the former is taken at a little faster-than-usual, wry clip, with a demanding Gomez solo, while the latter, which concludes the album, is treated in a straight ahead jazz manner. During his solo, Gomez’s vocalizations may strike you either as unpleasantly annoying or endearingly spontaneous. The treatment of Brian Wilson’s “Surfer Girl” as a jazz waltz works surprisingly well, highlighting once again the unexpected depth to many of the “throw-away” Beach Boys compositions. “The Morning After,” the last Muñoz original, is harmonically charming and conversationally satisfying.
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Track Listing: Three Little Steps to Heaven; As Long As She Needs Me; Both Sides Now*; Be My Love; Remember Bill*+; B
Personnel: Carli Mu