Thursday, March 09, 2017

Luis Munoz - The Dead Man (Pelin Music, 2017)

Drummer, keyboardist and composer Luis Munoz's Quartet is an excellent band featuring Jonathan Dane on trumpet and flugelhorn, Brendan Statom on bass and Daniel Zimmerman on guitars, along with some special guests filling out the sound on a few tracks. The album opens with "Secrecy" which has a substantive sound with trumpet weaving through a thicket of guitar, bass and drums. They drop back to a distinctive melody, spacious and open, and the music unfolds majestically enveloping a bass solo into the group's dynamic shifts. The mysterious sound of dusty western guitar and subtle brushes and percussion are at play in "The Sleep of the Innocent (Trio Version)" which is a slowly developing gentle ballad. The vibe is akin to some of Bill Frisell's Americana tinged projects, and it suits the stripped down format well. The full group comes crashing back in on "Tierranegra" with a ripe fusion sound including electric keyboards and and a guesting flute player sitting in, offering up a classic Return to Forever feel, building to a fine conclusion of keyboard and flute riffs. "The Dead Man" has a mid-tempo beat with shades of keyboards, hand percussion and guitar. Tenor saxophone and bass clarinet burble just underneath the surface of the music, while keyboards and chimes give the music a shiny punch. There is another stripped down ballad on "Invisible (Trio Version)" which is slightly sentimental without becoming maudlin. Another fine bass solo bracketed by pure toned guitar evoke the feeling of a lonely highway on a quiet and still night. The concluding track, "Savannah," is another fine fusion performance, beginning with some quiet and subtle guitar and trumpet which develops an edge with the drums and percussion building in. The trumpet slides through with a lean edge to it, leading a dynamic rush as the band develops a powerful motif leading to a fine improvised section of flinty guitar and percolating percussion. This album worked quite well, moving from subtle ballads to muscular fusion with ease. And that album art is just awesome... The Dead Man -

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