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“When I first heart Tisziji’s music, I felt like I had come home. Years ago, when I began listening to jazz, I had a similar experience with the John Coltrane recording, “A Love Supreme.” As I was listening to the music alone one night, I was overcome by the feeling of a presence of great love in the room there with me.  Playing with Tisziji was like going back to that night such a long time ago. When I did this recording with Tisziji, Rashied and Don, I felt like I had gone back home again to the spiritual and emotional place that was revealed to me that night. It felt like a complete unspoken musical understanding between the four of us — no need to explain anything or hold anything back — we were all speaking the same language.  I could be completely myself — could sing and soar as high as my imagination was capable of taking me.  What a privilege and a blessing!  I feel very grateful and honored to be included in Tisziji’s vision.  He is a master musician devoted to a path of healing and spirituality in his music as well as the rest of his life — a rare glowing spirit in a world of greed, commercialism and mundane values.  May our connection last for a long, long, time. Tisziji, thank you for bringing me home!” -Marilyn Crispell

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  1. Divine Urgency!
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 4:36
  2. Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death!
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 11:34

  3. Piano Intro to Lemuria
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 2:31
  4. Lemuria
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 14:08
  5. The Elder of the Mysteries
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 17:00
  6. God-fire (Pyramid)
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 16:08
  7. Spirit Path Intro
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 1:22

Tisziji Muñoz: Guitar, Bells
Marilyn Crispell: Piano
Don Pate: Bass
Rashied Ali: Drums

Produced by Tisziji Muñoz
Recorded on June 11, 2000
Cotton Hill Recording Studio, Latham NY
Recording & Mastering Engineer: Mike Muñoz
Mixing Engineers: Mike & Tisziji Muñoz


Guitar World

July 2001 by Richard Gehr

Tisziji Muñoz – Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death
“Tisziji Muñoz, an upstate New York spiritual master possessing transcendent chops, channels the cosmic spirit of John Coltrane in long and short modal excursions. Reminiscent of Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock all at once, Muñoz is a fire-breathing presence who travels the spaceways on casually ecstatic rifts, alternating fleet flurries of notes with hornlike wails. He’s supported here (on Breaking the wheel of Life and Death) superbly by pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Don Pate and former Coltrane drummer, Rashied Ali, who know which way the astral winds blow.”

Downtown Music Gallery

February 16 & March 2, 2001 by Bruce Gallanter

February 16, 2001:
“TISZIJI MUÑOZ-Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death! (Anami 019)
Featuring Marilyn Crispell, Don Pate, Rashied Ali and Tisziji on brain-melting guitar!! Amazing and spiritual Trane-like intensity and certain to devastate all who listen.”
March 2, 2001:
“Featuring Marilyn Crispell on piano, Don Pate on bass, Rashied Ali on drums and Tisziji Munoz on guitar, bells and compositions. Henry Kaiser put together a session for his guru and guitar-god Tisziji Munoz last year with a hand picked group that Henry chose for both guitarists to play with – this astonishing encounter was released a few months ago as “Auspicious Healing” and featured Marilyn Crispell on piano. The cosmic Coltrane vibe that Tisziji and Marilyn both share was brought together again a few months later for a powerful quartet date with Munoz’ often regular rhythm team of Don Pate and former Coltrane-collaborator Rashied Ali. I just witnessed Marilyn playing in a trio with Barry Guy and Gerry Hemingway the other night at Tonic and she consistently blows mind with her ultra-deep playing. From the very first piece on this CD “Divine Urgency” Munoz opens with that tone which gets the spirits flowing and trio around him float in cosmic space as time stands still. The title track comes next – a slow and mysterious Trane-like modal thing which takes its time to ascend higher and higher spiraling upwards as Tisziji lets those notes cascade like waves of energy flowing. Marilyn’s solo comes next and it ever so elegant and beautiful, hushed and graceful that Munoz slows down the vibe to almost a standstill. Marilyn opens “Lemuria” with one of her superb harp-like solos which transcends up into the heavens as the tune itself grows from the innocent intro melody into another stellar region amongst the stars. The longest piece is “The Elder of the Mysteries” another tune in which the quartet sounds as if it is playing in slow motion as Tisziji starts to bend those notes upwards higher and higher one level at a time – Marilyn also taking a dream-inducing solo as well and a fine solo as well from Don Pate on acoustic bass. On this piece in particular there is some amazing call and response between the guitar and piano – notes that caress each other and us as well. The pulse picks up on the final long piece “God-Fire (Pyramid)” where Tisziji unleashes swarms of notes which crash over us in waves of urgent force. Marilyn also takes a spectacular piano solo – the forces of the gods to be reckoned with as she also spins notes in crashing waves, like a torrential rainstorm. Eventually the guitar also answers the call and explodes together with the piano as one cosmic force. Almost too much for us mere mortals!”

Schwann Inside Jazz & Classical, June 2001 by Derk Richardson

Tisziji Muñoz – Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death

“Tisziji Muñoz makes a great story. The 54 year-old guitarist cut his solo debut, Rendezvous with Now (India Navigation), in 1978. He has devised an original astrological spiritual system called “Time-Mastery.” He runs his own record label, Anami Music, out of Schenectady, New York. He performs and records with such renowned musicians as saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Dave Liebman, bassist Cecil McBee and pianists McCoy Tyner, John Hicks, Hilton Ruiz and The Late Show’s Paul Shaffer. And he issues his self-produced CDs the way Tiger Woods wins golf tournaments-in prodigious bunches In 1999, for instance, he released four studio albums: Presence of Joy (Samboga-Kaya), Presence of Truth (Dharma-Kaya), Presence of Mastery (Nirmana-Kaya) and Alpha-Nebula (The Prophecies) plus a live recording, Great Sacrifice (Maha Yajna).

“Muñoz’s new quartet recording, Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death, anchored by the extraordinary rhythm section of pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Don Pate and drummer Rashied Ali, has its companion release as well, a quintet date, Auspicious Healing!, with Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, drummer Lukas Ligeti and globetrotting improvising guitarist Henry Kaiser.

“As fascinating as his biography may be, Muñoz makes music of even greater enormity and intrigue. Like the late Sonny Sharrock, the Mahavishnu Orchestra-era John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana, Muñoz unleashes supercharged, rapid-fire, molten-toned guitar lines with the same sense of spiritual quest (and similarly dense “sheets of sound”) as saxophone master John Coltrane. And while he plays electric guitar amped up to the edge of feedback, his music is no more jazz-rock “fusion” than was Trane’s Meditation or A Love Supreme. It is “energy music” that transcends any earthly definition by tapping into a cosmic flow and channeling larger-than-human-life forces into spontaneously generated sound.

“Muñoz’s meeting with Crispell was facilitated by Kaiser, but on Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death, it feels like a predestined musical marriage. A longtime member of saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton’s avant-garde quartet, Crispell years ago underwent a life-changing experience listening to A Love Supreme. Moved by its emotional immediacy and generosity, which she describes as “a presence of great love,” she dedicated herself thereafter to playing “music that came totally from the heart and spirit.” So her musical sensibilities, including her unpredictable approach to improvising-informed by the thunderous power of McCoy Tyner and the freedom of Cecil Taylor-intuitively mesh with those of Muñoz, manifesting a kind of creative empathy more typically cultivated through years of collaboration.

“The harmonically attuned Pate, a veteran of the late ‘70s Gil Evans Orchestra and George Adams Quintet, has appeared on several Muñoz recordings, as has the rhythm-spreading, propulsively sympathetic Ali, who recorded with Coltrane on such outward-bound sessions as Meditation, Interstellar Space and Stellar Regions.

“Breaking the Wheel comprises seven tracks, including a four-and-a-half-minute opener appropriately titled “Divine Urgency!,” a two-and-a-half-minute solo “Piano Intro to Lemuria” and a second brief solo Crispell coda at album’s end, the gospel-infused “Spirit Path Intro.” Four extended pieces occupy nearly an hour of the recording’s 77 minutes. Throbbing with the palpable sensation of plunging into the unknown, they warrant such evocative and cryptic tittles as “The Elder of the Mysteries” and “God-fire (Pyramid).” Whether the notes burst forth like serial explosions of firecrackers or slowly describe great arcs of romantic feeling, Muñoz’s guitar sound carries that bittersweet cry of the seeker who is able to make his story reflect the pure essence of a far greater scheme.”

San Francisco Gate

Beyond Jazz 2001 – December 20, 2001
by Derk Richardson

A subjective take on the best of this year’s avant-garde and jazz
“The obscure electric guitarist from upstate New York adds to his prolific output with another all-star setting for his thick-toned, mercurial fretwork. With pianist Marilyn Crispell at her thunderous best, former John Coltrane cohort Rashied Ali crashing and caressing the drums, and longtime Munoz sideman Don Pate on bass, Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death! offers more than an hour of evidence that Munoz is the unchallenged claimant to the Coltrane-of-the-guitar title. Fans of early Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and the late Sonny Sharrock should start their Munoz collection here.

“But, this is only one of three new CDs from the metaphysical master: Auspicious Healing features Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, drummer Lukas Ligeti and second guitarist Henry Kaiser, and the even newer Parallel Reality has Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano sax. All vibrate with transcendent energy.”


– May 2001

“The guitarist/composer (Tisziji Muñoz) cuts an arresting figure on the sleeve of this album. Muñoz sports a stern expression framed by samourai-style hair as he brings a black hammer down on a shimmering, ceremonial gong. If this is the eponymous wheel of the title then what will be the effect of Muñoz breaking it? Might we live longer or die sooner? Extension and contraction of the gap between existence and non-existence is a consumptive subtext to this set of viscerally passionate compositions. At times it’s pure sonic scorched earth with the leader’s molten metal phrases crushing all in their path, wittling away the rhythmic backdrops to the faintest of murmurs. Elsewhere there’s an altogether more tender toughness that emerges as the warm harmonic bridge between Muñoz and pianist Marilyn Crispell and the tight rhythmic interlocking of drummer Rashied Ali and bassist Donald Pate conspire to produce a kind of musical out-of-body experience. On themes such as Divine Urgency and Lemuria, Muñoz really creates a feeling of sanctified heresy; it’s as if he’s tearing down stultified religions like some kind of trippy avenging angel, boiling up the afro-cosmic soups of past collaborator Pharoah Sanders and injecting an extra dose of post-Sharrock metal into any notions of standardized free jazz cacophony. Sonically, Muñoz is in a class of his own; the hard serrated edges of his guitar take their cue from the most violent of free jazz saxophonists, yet what impresses most is his overwhelming sense of melody, his ability to retain a string narrative thread in the middle of the wildest extrapolations. Marilyn Crispell is the perfect partner in this sense and her streaming, contrapuntal attacks help create terrifying, beautiful moments on a record of pure primeval power.”


– April 2001by Edwin Pouncey

Auspicious Healing and Breaking the Wheel
“New York guitarist and mystic Tisziji Muñoz is blessed with a great musical talent that is coupled with a finely tuned ear. Throughout his career he has managed to surround himself with a superb supporting supporting cast of inventive players that have included, amongst others, legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and drummer Rashied Ali. On Auspicious Healing! He finds himself once again in fine company. This time with fellow guitarist Henry Kaiser, bass player Mark Dresser, drummer Lukas Ligeti and fabled pianist Marilyn Crispell, whose contribution here adds an incredible extra dimension to Muñoz’ sky scorching bursts of cosmic guitar interplay. In his sleevenote Kaiser endows Crispell with Cecil Taylor status, no mean accolade which, as the record progresses, soon bears the promised improvisational fruit. It is not only Crispell’s talent that shines through either. The spirituality which pours from her playing is also to the fore, and it is this which makes her and Muñoz a match made in heaven. There are moments here which are truly dazzling, as great windmilling swatches of intricate keyboard work from Crispell seamlessly interlock with Muñoz and the rest of the band to produce a music which is organic, orgasmic and genuinely jaw plunging.

“The thrills continue on Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death, a quartet record where Muñoz and Crispell are joined by bass player Don Pate and the aforementioned Rashied Ali on drums. The result is, again, is awe-inspiring. Especially on ‘Lemuria’, which opens with a stunning ‘Piano Intro’ by (Marilyn) Crispell before the main track is allowed to crash through with Muñoz firmly in the driving seat, pushing his playing to new extremes of spiritual and creative awareness. Meanwhile, Ali’s and Pate’s perfectly paced drum and bass accompaniment and occasional soloing guide and prod the main players into musical territory that they themselves had probably never dreamed of exploring. Like previous Tisziji Muñoz records, (this goes) beyond jazz as most ‘fans’ understand it.”