The pianists of a certain age who play fabulously yet have lived in obscurity for half of their careers are legion. A few years ago we discovered the brilliant Marc Copland. Then along came Russ Lossing. And now here's Munoz, a dizzyingly impressive player who sounds in his prime even though no longer in the first flush of youth. That this relatively unknown figure can assemble a cast of such A-listers as DeJohnette, Gomez, Byron and Sanchez says much about the esteem in which he's held and from the opening bars of Maverick , it's clear that the leader is a force to be reckoned with. His touch at the keyboard is sensitive yet strident and his single note melodies have a pert yet engaging lyricism. But it is perhaps Muñoz's harmonic range that intrigues the most as it sweeps throughout classical references such as Debussy as well as Latin touchstones like Lecuona and Valdes to land in jazz territory that, as with most modern trios - especially ones with Eddie Gomez on bass - betray a love of Bill Evans at some point or another. Yet Munoz has an eloquence that is sufficiently personal to rise above any derivative cheap shots. His sense of swing is assured without being overpowering and his willingness to settle into a thematic line without quickly rushing to extemporize after the perfunctory statement of the head, is also wholly refreshing.
Kevin Le Gendre (1/2006). Jazz Wise UK .