Somebody, low in the mix, says, "Yeah!" as bass and drums shuffle and throb into "A Cool Night in the City," the fourth tune into Maverick . "Yeah!"--like this sounds so good. And indeed it does. The tune serves as something of a centerpiece on pianist Carli Muñoz's excellent new disc, and it's not alone in the "yeah!" factor among these nine tunes, which include three standards and six Muñoz-penned compositions.
Muñoz has worked with Wilson Pickett and George Benson, and he had an eleven-year tenure with the Beach Boys. Here he displays straightahead jazz chops on a (mostly) piano trio outing. Mention piano trio and two names immediately come to mind: Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. Muñoz has brought in two veterans of those groups--Jack DeJohnette, who worked with Evans and has maintained a long association with Jarrett; and Eddie Gomez , who worked with Evans for eleven years. Gomez has a big, thick, assertive sound, and DeJohnette is the classy, ebullient, and always fascinating texturalist.
Muñoz pens an engaging melody on these tunes, which fit in nicely with well-chosen standards. The opening title tune features saxophonist David Sanchez, cooking; "Three Little Steps to Heaven" brings in clarinetist Don Byron; the closing "Yellow Moon Tune" features some lovely dark hues from Jane Scarpaloni's cello. The guest slots are surrounded by the piano trio efforts, and these are absolutely top notch: "Katira's Waltz," with as pretty a melody as you'll hear, Muñoz's piano sounding crisp and succinct, a mix of delicacy and deft percussive beauty; and "A Cool Night in the City" (a highlight), which has an insistent energy and momentum and marvelous group interplay.
The standards include "You Don't Know What Love Is," Keith Jarrett's "Margot," and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," the last piece veering into an appealingly abstract zone.
A truly fine outing. What can you say but... "Yeah!"
Dan McClenaghan /ALLABOUTJAZZ