There are few – very few – drummers playing music today who see music in four dimensions; the three we know and the fourth – that ethereal dimension or spirit world. Listening to Voz, this extra-special record by Luis Muñoz, you will not help wondering how the drummer does it. It is clear that he ‘sees’ music as something sculpted, an edifice built but not a geometric one, or at least not one designed by a ruler and a set square. Rather his music is shaped by a French curve, it would seem; sensuous, alive and undulating with heart and soul and spirit – a cadaverous shape that sighs and breathes. The fact that Luis Muñoz has trained as an architect might have something to do with it but I rather posit that he must have been born a shaman in some otherworldly life to be able to divine music in these terms.
Add to that the fact that Luis Muñoz plays his instruments in a painterly manner and you have this recorded ‘mural’ as a result. The drummer not only understands his own instrument in terms of the tone colours of its tuned peripherals and therefore the powerful extent of the colour palette he has at hand but because Mr. Muñoz thinks like a painter – a colourist – that he is able to bend other instruments to his command. This might be the only manner in which to explain the interpretative risks he takes to ensure that he can draw from any instrument – including here, the human voice – articulation that is more abstract, soft-edged and generally imitate an expansive, almost endless musical universe. Using these multilateral voices thus Luis Muñoz is able to imagine and give birth to a unique double-choir juxtaposition of lyric and free contrapuntal ‘rhapsody’ to produce throughout contemplative warmth.
It is, of course, a stroke of genius that Luis Muñoz should have chosen Magos Herrera, Teka Pentariche and Claudia Acuña and a heavenly host of other backing vocalists to realise his music. Indeed the leading ladies deliver an almost surreal ride through which brilliant images and visions emerge. Throughout the vocal masterpieces visceral scenes are offset against an ethereal quest for musical redemption. Listen to “Manantial”, “Argentina” and “Quisiera” and you are sure to be mesmerised by the volley of declamation and rich illusion over the short and long space in music time that Luis Muñoz, all this in contrasting tableaux of ever-surprising emotional impact. The vocalists deliver in ways that will leave the listener gasping.
As you would imagine, surprises abound – some of which take a little getting used to. Luis Muñoz challenges orthodoxy in how vocalastic holy grails are fundamentally signposted and he does so, almost always, with persuasive passion and genuine zeal. The high wire artistry of the vocalists is a fitting touchstone for this album. All in all, this is one of the most desirable vocal albums I have had the pleasure to listen to.
Track List: Preludio y fin; Manantial; Argentina (vocal version); Journey of Saint Augustine (trio version); Pasión; Testamento/Mas Alla (vocal version); Amarilis (quartet version); Quisiera; Amanecer Luminoso.
Personnel: Luis Muñoz: drums, percussion, keyboard and melodica; Ramses Araya: bongos and congas (1); Kevin Winard: percussion (5); Brendan Statom: acoustic bass (1, 3, 4, 7 & 8); Tom Etchart: electric bass (2) and acoustic bass (6); Randy Tico: bass (5); Adam Asanow: piano (1, 3, 5 & 9); George Friedenthal: piano (6); Jonathan Dane: trumpet (1, 4, 6, 7 & 8) and flugelhorn (3); Ron Kalina: chromatic harmonica (2 & 5); Narciso Sotomayor: electric guitars (2); Daniel Zimmerman: acoustic guitar (4 & 7); Chris Judge: acoustic guitar (5, 6 & 8); Magos Herrera: Lead vocals (1, 3, 6 & 9); Teka Penteriche: lead vocals (2, 5 & 8) and background vocals (2); Claudia Acuña: lead vocals (8); Lois Mahalia: background (2); Andy Zuñiga: background vocals (2); Jana Anderson: background vocals (5); Victor Martén: background vocals (5).
About Luis Muñoz
Luis Muñoz, composer, arranger, producer and percussionist, was born in San José, Costa Rica. In 1972 Luis entered the University of Costa Rica and the National Music Conservatory, where he studied both Architecture and Music. In 1974 Luis completed his degree in music composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara, under the tutelage of renowned British composer Peter Fricker. Luis Muñoz has written music for documentaries, animation films, dance and theater, and has performed in some of the best Jazz festivals and venues in the world. Read more…