Born: October 16, 1948 Primary Instrument: Piano
Carli Muñoz grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he played professionally from a very early age. As a pre- teen, Carli prodigiously assembled a group of friends from his neighborhood, told them that from then on they were going to be musicians, selected their instruments, taught them how to play them and went off to become one of the most popular dance bands in metro San Juan. “In 1960 I would come home with a $500.00 leader’s share in my pockets per week and the sidemen (more like sidekids) would take home at least $250 each. Soon enough we added some professional horn players and joined the local Musicians Union” says Carli.
In 1963, Carli joined a group of veteran jazz musicians led by Monchito Muñoz, who had a score of players in his band such as the famed Cuban percussionist Sabú Martinez, bassist Freddy Thomas, Juancito Torres on trumpet, jazz diva Myrna Pagan and drummer Joe Morello as a frequent guest.
In 1964 Carli was recruited by one of his peers to form a rock band that soon enough became house band to the famed 1960’s Rolling Stone club in Manhattan and landed a record deal with Capitol. In 1969, another friend asked Carli to join him on a weekend trip to L.A. California and the weekend lasted 16 years. While in L.A., Carli soon enough began gigging with a variety of local groups while word of his extraordinary musicianship got around and he started being solicited for studio and road work by artists such as Wilson Pickett, The Association, Jimmy Haskell, Jan and Dean, Peter Cetera, Blondie Chaplin, Evie Sands, Jorge Calderon, Henry Gross and The Beach Boys (eleven years). Curiously, after leaving the Beach Boys in 1981, Carli joins a Country Swing band for two years. This entire sojourn from 1963 to 1983 Carli calls “a 20 year sabbatical”.
During the 11 years with the Beach Boys and in-between touring and recordings, Carli formed his first jazz trio with Potter Smith on bass and Sam Provenzano on drums. He also led his own experimental fusion band “Your Own Space”, which rotated within the underground circle of jazz clubs in LA, along with Al Jarreau and Ricky Lee Jones. He also performed several times in concert with the Charles Lloyd band. But Carli’s heart was still longing for the purity of his first love: Jazz.
By the end of 1982 Carli had made the firm determination to respond to a different call and bounce back full time to jazz. Along with this shift Carli immediately landed concerts and recording gigs with artist such as George Benson, Chico Hamilton, Wayne Henderson and Les McCann among other artist. By 1985 Carli left the LA scene and returned to where it all began: Puerto Rico. It is in San Juan where Carli’s determination goes steady on mastering the art of the jazz trio.
After being one of the few working jazz trios since 1985 on the island, in December of 1998 Carli opens his own jazz supper club Carli Café Concierto in historic Old San Juan where he has been performing nightly until present time and created a “Live at Carli’s” Cd series with his trio and guest performers such as the legendary bassist Lucille Dixon. To keep on touch with the main stream, Carli commutes regularly to New York where he records for his own label, Pelosenel Records. In addition to the Live at Carli’s series his studio productions to date are: “Love Tales”Carli on piano solo; “Both Sides Now” Carli on piano with bassist Eddie Gomez and guests Joe Chambers on drums and Jeremy Steig on flute; and “Maverick” Carli on piano with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette; and guests David Sanchez on tenor sax and Don Byron on clarinet.
Incredibly, Carli expanded his original and standard repertoire and developed his craft without studying piano or composition. In fact, to this day music reading or notation has never been an option for Carli. Perhaps the absence of handed down musical rules kept Carli’s naturally musical mind open, fresh, creative and in a continuous path of discovery.
Muñoz’ current plans include touring the US, Europe and Asia with his trio, quartet and quintet while continuing to record for his voluminous Live at Carli’s series and masterminding other special project with some of his favorite artist.
Awards:Gold Record "The Beach Boys in Concert" 1973 Century Music Awards Latino, 2005 (Carli Muñoz/Eddie Gomez)
“Virtuosic without being superfluous…” John Kelman,, All That Jazz
“…a force to be reckoned with…” Kevin Le Gendre, Jazz Wise UK
“…makes piano notes pop like small explosions…” Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times
“The electricity between the three is authentic…”
James Hale, Downbeat Magazine (about the trio with Eddie Gomez and Jack Dejohnette)
“…crisp attack, a distinctive piano sonority…” Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times
“…a mix of delicacy and deft percussive beauty…” Dan McClenaghan, All That Jazz
“Carli's solos, indeed his music, breathe deeply and healthily…” Winthrop Bedford, Jazz Improv Magazine
“…outstanding pianist and composer…” Eddie Gómez
“…the real deal…” Owen McNally, The Hartford Courant
“…a lyrical player…” Jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz
“…a rare charm…” Van Dyke Parks
“…the most exciting fifty-something improviser you've never heard of...” Andrew Gilbert, The JazzScribe, San Francisco
Both Sides Now, Pelosenel Q Lo Records, 2002
Live at Carli's Vol 1, Pelosenel Q Lo Records, 2004
Maverick, Pelosenel Q Lo Records, 2006
Live at Carli's Vol 2, Pelosenel Q Lo Records, 2008
Live at Carli's Vol 3 (Art of the Duo), Pelosenel Q Lo
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San Juan, PR
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Forums (CMPR) and master classes. Will teach piano jazz improvisation and composition via a unique self taught approach. No reading necessary. Only intermediate to advance. One to one or group, in person only. In San Juan (Miramar), Puerto Rico. Hours: Flexible Rate: $40 p/40 minutes
I have partial experience at doing clinics, through various clinics and forums I've done at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, my home town. But generally my focus has been on performing commercially: Concerts, clubs, etc.