Luis Muñoz: Luz (2013)
While his roots go back to Central America, this release bears a folkish Americana, one that absorbs influences and styles from every musician with whom Muñoz interacts. From the shortest, simplest melody of "Entra El Mar Y La Tristeza," played on guitar and marimba, to the percussion charged "El Sendero De Las Aves," which mates drummer Carlomagno Araya, bata drummer Ramses Araya, and Muñoz's West African shereke gourd with a Latin bebop horn section, the percussionist/pianist keeps things snappily simple. Muñoz's influences gather sounds from many continents and several islands. "Amarilis" could easily be mistaken for a Cuban jazz composition from pianist Chucho Valdes, that draws from a Spanish legacy, mixing violin, piano and trumpet.
The three vocal tracks, "El Sueño De Adán," "Al Silencio," and "Testamento/Mas Allá" come across as sumptuous without sounding opulent. Here, Muñoz's ability to absorb cultures and reproduce with empathy is the kicker. "Invisible" could be mistaken for a bit of guitarist Bill Frisell's Americana, with Jonathan Dane's cornet shadowed by the Western feel of Bill Flores' pedal steel guitar. Even the short (1:37) "Preludio" delivered as a quasi-classical chamber piece bears an accent.
Track Listing: El Sueño De Adán; Invisible; Amarilis; Al Silencio; El Sendero De Las Aves; Vals De La Luz; Preludio; Testamento/Mas Allá; Entra El Mar Y La Tristeza.
Personnel: Luis Muñoz: percussion (1, 8), background vocals (1), drums (2, 4), piano (2-6), shekere (5); Adam Asarnow: piano (1-3, 6); Tom Etchart: acoustic bass (1-6, 8); Jonathan Dane: muted cornet (2), trumpet (3-5, 8); Bill Flores: pedal steel guitar (2); Laura Hackstein: violin (3); Narciso Sotomayer: acoustic guitar (3); George Friedenthal: piano (4-8); Téka Penteriche: vocals (1, 4); Carlomagno Araya: drums (5); Ramses Araya: bata drums (5); Tom Buckner: tenor saxophone (5); Christopher Judge: acoustic guitar (6, 8); Magos Herrera: vocals (8); Gilberto González: acoustic guitar (9); John Nathan: marimba (9).
Record Label: Pelin Music