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Monday, December 4, 2023

Kresten Osgood, Bob Moses and Tisziji Muñoz - Spiritual Drum Kinship (Gotta Let It Out, 2023)

By Paul Acquaro

Guitarist Tisziji Muñoz is a somewhat under-the-radar player in improvised music. Perhaps better stated, he is more of an open secret, and those in the know, know that his fiery Coltrane-like approach to his instrument should have him cresting the top of any "fiery-guitar" music fan's list. He also happens to be a teacher of spirituality and combines his teachings with his music to reach some incendiary peaks

On Spiritual Drum Kinship, Muñoz is joined by two percussionists, music legend as well as long-time student of Muñoz, Rakalam Bob Moses and legend-in-the-making Kresten Osgood. Together, they create a rhythmic force that is as knotty and complex as it is accessible and comfortable, and over which Muñoz plays with an inspiring rawness. In fact, it's this rawness that really makes the music work so well. As the tracks evolve, Muñoz makes deviations from one path that may or may not lead to the next one, always leaving some aspect to be explored. Adding to this adventurousness, there is his tone, which is raw and crackling with the energy of an overheating Fender tube amp. Take, for example, the opening moments of the album, the track "When Purple Bangs True." Within its effectively simple melody, there are incomplete notes and an uneven volume, all of which makes it - to my ears - sympathetic and gripping. It's like being the soft side of the Velcro and the music is the other piece. How those little hooks latch on as that simple melody simple builds to anthemic heights in short order.

The interaction between Moses and Osgood is another reason why the album flows so well. One example, on "Bone Rolling Moans," we get a real dose of their pulse-heavy and textural approach. The track begins with Muñoz playing a double-stop melody that seems to be purposefully just on the edge of falling apart, and we hear the drummers building, lightly at first, a fluid, textural bed. Maybe it's more of a water bed, it's surface contours shifting as the weight of the notes change, but always in proportion and supportive of what's above. Mid-way through the track, Muñoz is hoping on this metaphorical bed, while Moses and Osgood are playing along, perfectly in sync with all of the fantastic commotion. Then, Munoz lets the two percussionists duel it out as his guitar feeds-back and fades. The second half of the album is even better.

Spiritual Drum Kinship is an thrilling collection of improvisations, and one true to every word of its title.