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Carli's Fine Bistro & Piano

Downbeat 1/2006

****

Puerto Rican pianist Carli Muñoz has one of the most diverse resumes in the business - including stints with The Beach Boys and Wilson Pickett, in addition to a side career as a club owner in San Juan . That's not exactly the kind of background that leads naturally to heading a piano trio with two of the most accomplished rhythm mates in the history of the format, yet here's Muñoz, 57, reuniting bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette in a trio with chemistry to burn. The electricity between the three is authentic; most of nine recordings are early takes, captured without rehearsal.

Muñoz strikes a nice balance between ebullient originals like the hooky title track and strong balladic covers like Keith Jarrett's pretty "Margot" and "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning." There's some Jarrett's influence in Muñoz playing, but he also underplays to good effect, leaving phases unfinished or pausing prior to subtle changes in directions.

Despite effective guest spots by countryman David Sanchez and Don Byron, the most valuable player here is clearly DeJohnette, who brings his full repertoire of techniques into play. Opportunities to hear DeJohnette in a pure support role are rare these days, and freed from the burden of sharing the spotlight he lets his imagination run wild. On the easy grooving "A Cool Night In The City" he's consistently contributing-from galloping accents, to single bell-like notes, propulsive flams and tempo changing gambits that color the entire flow of Muñoz solo.

James Hale (2006). Reviews / Downbeat Magazine

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