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ALBUM REVIEWS

Luis Munoz: The Dead Man

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In a thought-provoking concept of intertwining a short story by Uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga, with a personal near-death experience set to music, drummer/composer Luis Muñoz offers The Dead Man, as a lesson in living life in the present moment, for that is all there is. Muñoz has been quite productive over the past few years, releasing Luz in 2013, and Voz, in 2015, on his own Pelín Music label. Both records were carefully crafted creations combining Latin vocals ...

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Luis Munoz: Voz

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There's selfless, and then there's really selfless. This vocal-centric album of original compositions written and arranged by drummer Luis Muñoz falls into the latter category. Instead of using this as a platform to promote his own playing, which wouldn't necessarily be frowned upon considering the fact that it's his album, Muñoz's contributions on the performance end--drums, Rhodes piano, percussion, keyboard, and melodica--are strictly about sonic enhancement and support. He even sits out three of these nine tracks, proving that the ...

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Luis Munoz: Voz

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There is no need to hurry if one has arrived at the space in time where inspiration and music dissolve into a boundless cascade of emotion. Multi-talented Luis Muñoz, has channeled his production skills into a sublime direction on Voz, collaborating with a trio of premier vocalists, augmented by an attuned supporting cast. Though Muñoz contributes his drumming and composing skills, it his sense of trust in others that makes this a special project. Initiating what is a ...

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Luis Muñoz: Luz

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Luis Muñoz gathers strength with each of his recordings as he goes past the post of the previous one, making new ideas and developments his haunt. Luz, as the title would suggest, injects new light into his music. Muñoz conceives and marvelous executes his game plan. Driving the rhythm and the beat from the drummer's seat he opens up new vistas for his band. Form and genre are enveloped brilliantly as a spectrum fed by an enlightened ...

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Luis Muñoz: Luz

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Lessons in light--or, in Spanish, luz--lush arrangements need not be dense, as proven in Costa Rican-born Californian Luis Muñoz's compositions, orchestrations and arrangements on Luz, his sixth release for the Pelin label following the widely acclaimed Invisible (Pelin, 2010) and Of Soul And Shadow (Pelin, 2008).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 ...

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Luis Munoz: Luz

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Luis Muňoz's Luz is an unabashedly romantic paean to Latin music in its various guises. There is, however, nothing syrupy in this enchanting seventh release for the Costa Rican composer and percussionist, replete with “jazzy" creative spontaneity. Muňoz's impressionistic compositions are carefully arranged around a central theme, allowing adequate space to spotlight individual side musicians. The exquisite tango “Amarilis" features violinist Laura Hackstein's wistfully passionate strings as she plays the head with Astor Piazzolla-like flair. Pianist Adam ...

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Luis Muñoz: Luz

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Akin to wind and rain, music can no longer be confined or characterized by geography; it knows no borders and wanders free. In the case of Latin America, music has gone full circle in that jazz musicians initially sought inspiration and ideas from the United States, but are now realizing that their own regional cultures can be an encouraging source from which to to draw. Costa Rican-born Luis Muñoz--an award winning drummer, arranger, composer, and producer--is one that has never ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Luis Munoz: Invisible

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Invisible is the fifth release on the Pelin label from multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Luis Munoz, who also composed, arranged and orchestrated its nine tracks. The style is Afro-Latin jazz, featuring plenty of percussion instruments, many of them played by the leader. Latin rhythms underlay the contemporary sounding songs in an upbeat and catchy style. The majority of the songs feature excellent instrumentation and arrangements that make for an exciting listen.There is a distinct flow to the album, from ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Luis Munoz: Invisible

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Luis Munoz Invisible Pelin Music 2010

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 ...

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Luis Munoz: Invisible

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Luis Muñoz is a man of many parts. Not only does he play several instruments, he composed, arranged and orchestrated all the music on this recording. His adaptability is further underscored by the scope of his writing that encompasses several styles all of which make an impact.

Muñoz, who was born in Costa Rica, played in rock and jazz groups in his native country before moving to the United States in 1974. He soon began writing music for documentaries, animation ...

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Luis Munoz: Of Soul and Shadow

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An artist's application of structure leaves both positive and negative impacts upon Latin jazz. Rhythmic structures dictate the embedded Latin style and determine melodic phrasing. The harmonic structure provides the improviser a reference point for melodic invention. Structure becomes dangerous when composers strictly impose it upon their performance. The expressive freedom of jazz becomes lost, and the music moves in a commercial direction. Luis Muñoz fights a battle between structure and freedom on Of Soul and Shadow, performing a group ...

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Luis Munoz: Vida

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Vida is the latest offering from Costa Rican percussionist and composer Luis Muñoz. The music within is lush and inviting, gliding gracefully over an almost constantly moving stream of bubbling percussion. Throughout, Muñoz impresses as much with his arrangements and orchestrations as he does with his instrumental prowess and compositions.

With a tight, multi-part construction, the opening “Mad Bop recalls late period Weather Report, especially when Randy Tico's fretless bass cuts through the mix. “Seveneves boasts some novel ...