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Carli Muñoz is a self-taught pianist who began his career in dance bands in Puerto Rico in the early '60s, then left for the mainland. He returned home in 1986 and founded his own club, the Carli Cafe Concierto. Muñoz came to town recently to perform at Jazz Standard on November 30 for the release of Maverick.
On the album Muñoz reveals various influences, going from swingers such as "Three Little Steps to Heaven into more improvisational moments, such as on the title track, which gives fellow Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sánchez space for a hard-edged solo. In the more elegant "Katira's Waltz, he channels Brubeck without losing sight of his own distinctive style; he allows himself to sound darker on songs like "Entre Neuse.
In performance, Muñoz started out with a solo piano piece and was later joined by Eddie Gomez (bass) and Lenny White (drums). Gomez made quite an impression, sometimes stealing the attention from Muñoz with his technique and groove. On "Besame Mucho, Gomez started out with an extended arco solohis instrument had a bit of reverb, which gave the song an eerie feel. Muñoz joined in a few minutes later, briefly taking the song into a more Latin direction but changing again into a more standard feel as White began to play.
Young saxophonist Chris Potter was introduced during the third number, a blues-via-bebop tune that got a good reaction from the audience. On "On The Way To The Gig, Muñoz was pretty much on the spotlight as Gomez played a "Take Five -like bass line. Lenny White played his first solo of the night here, starting off by keeping the beat on one of the cymbals, while soloing single-armed for most of the time. He would have another go during the last number, clenching a drumstick between his teeth as he adjusted a cymbal during the solo while he did what he could with the rest of his bodyquite an amazing feat that drew sonorous applause from the audience.
Track Listing: Maverick; You Don't Know What Love Is; Margot; A Cool Night in the City; Katira's Waltz;
Entre Nous; Three Little Steps to Heaven; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; Yellow
Personnel: Carli Muńoz: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums; David Sanchez:
saxophone (1); Don Byron: clarinet (7); Jane Scarpantoni: cello (9).