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“I am very thankful to have met someone with Tisziji’s qualities. He is a great player, a great person and a great man. He has the qualities I like in a man. I like being around him. He is always very humble, very understated. He just wants to be free with his music.” —Pharoah Sanders

“Through the years, Tisziji has been unwavering in the purity of his music, releasing albums on his own Anami Music label and publishing books on spirituality. He still slays me, and when he calls me to play, in the studio or on stage, all I ask is ‘What time?’ So this time, when he asked me to be part of his historic project, featuring a true all-star list of like-minded jazz virtuosi, I not only jumped at the chance, but begged him to let me co-produce. The result is ‘Divine Radiance.’ Having had the good fortune to have played with so many of the guitar greats, I still must say, ‘Nobody moves me like Tisziji Muñoz.’ See for yourself.” —Paul Shaffer

“Tisziji Muñoz is a creative genius. He always demonstrates that when we play. It is a way of life with him. He is incredible and he gets better every time. He is of that different order of life, being humble, extraordinary and very spiritual. Like John Coltrane, Tisziji is always in pursuit of the spiritual truth. Divine Radiance was a very intense date. It is a good example of older cats playing much stronger than the younger cats out there today. It’s great to have Pharoah and Ravi playing together like this. This is beautiful, powerful music created out of a great concept. I thank Tisziji for including me on this recording.” —Rashied Ali

“Tisziji Muñoz is an amazing guitar player. His music is pure avant-garde jazz.” —Phil Ramone

♥ learn more

  1. Moment of Truth (1:10)
  2. Visiting This Planet – Leaving This Planet (16:14)
  3. Initiation By Fire (16:16)
  4. Fatherhood (4:25)
  5. Divine Radiance (24:11)

Tisziji Muñoz: Guitar & Synth
Pharoah Sanders: Saxophone
Ravi Coltrane: Saxophone
Rashied Ali: Drums
Paul Shaffer: Piano, Organ and Synths
Don Pate: Bass
Cecil McBee: Bass

Produced by Paul Shaffer and Tisziji Muñoz
All Compositions by Tisziji Muñoz and Published by Anami Music – BMI
Recorded October 30, 2001 at Right Track Recordings NY, NY
Recording Engineer: Mike Muñoz
Mixed by Larry Alexander at Electric Larryland, Valley Cottage, NY
Mastered by Mark Wilder at Sony Music Studios NY


Downtown Music Gallery

August 2, 2013 by Bruce Gallanter

“Featuring an absolutely stellar cast: Pharoah Sanders & Ravi Coltrane on tenor saxes, Paul Shaffer on piano, organ & synth, Don
Pate & Cecil McBee on acoustic basses, Rashied Ali on drums and that inter-planetary space traveling electric guitar spirit man – TISZIJI MUNOZ!!! With a High-end studio production by Paul Shaffer! With some twenty plus releases behind him, our special friend Tisziji has put together his dream band and moved to a new label for better visibility and distribution. This dream band is quite special as it features two great sax players, both of whom are associated with Tisziji’s main inspiration – John Coltrane. Pharoah played alongside Trane during the mid-sixties and Ravi is Trane’s son. All three of these fellow travelers carry Trane’s cosmic stream of notes into the future. Also adding his unique spice is Trane’s final drummer of choice – Rashied Ali, plus two great contrabassists, another seed that was planted on a few different Trane records. Longtime friend and musical associate of nearly 40 years, multi-keyboard ace Paul Shaffer (yes, of Letterman fame), co-produces and adds his rich sound on piano and keys as well.”

Reviews in PDF

Jazz Times October 2003, by Brian Gilmore

Downbeat Magazine

Billboard Tearsheet by Jim Bessman, Film/Music recommendations – Jazz Caps

Tisziji Muñoz: Divine Radiance. Paul Shaffer and Tisziji Muñoz, producers. Dreyfus 36706

“Of the jazz guitarists inspired by saxophonist John Coltrane’s mid-’60s spiritual quest, upstate New Yorker Tisziji Muñoz has remained at once the most steadfast and the most obscure. Unlike John McLaughlin or Larry Coryell, for instance, this 57-year-old Brooklyn-born guitarist has never ventured far afield from the alchemy of a thick, molten electric guitar tone and furious sheets-of-sound scales that became popular at the dawn of jazz-rock fusion. Indeed, those who have somehow found their way to Muñoz’s music (perhaps through his sporadic performances with saxist Pharoah Sanders and pianist McCoy Tyner) will find Divine Radiance quite familiar, with few departures from the score of albums Muñoz has released on his own Anami label over the past decade. But those hearing the Schenectady-based spiritualist for the first time, thanks to the wider distribution made possible by Dreyfus, will be blown away by Muñoz’s mercurial fretwork, unbridled passion, and urgent quest for self-expression on what can only be called a higher metaphysical plane.

“Like Coltrane, this self-styled astrologer draws equally inspired performances from his musical partners, in this case tenor saxophonists Sanders and Ravi Coltrane, and his longtime rhythm section collaborators—bassist Don Pate, drummer Rashied Ali, and pianist Paul Shaffer. (Yes, that Paul Shaffer; he and Muñoz met at York University in Toronto in 1970 and have remained friends ever since.) On three epic-length pieces (two clocking in at 16 minutes, one at 24) and two short ones, Muñoz powers through late-Trane-like squalls of collective cacophony and meditates on poignant, legato melodies played in a breathtakingly luminescent tone.

“While Muñoz’s recent CDs with pianist Marilyn Crispell were cleanly produced by guitarist Henry Kaiser, the sometimes-muddy mix here won’t win any audiophile prizes. But that becomes irrelevant when Muñoz, like Carlos Santana, the late Sonny Sharrock, and McLaughlin at his Mahavishnu peak, achieves such intense levels of embodied spirit.” DR

Stylus Magazine

September 3, 2003 by Jim Storch

“…Guitarist Tisziji Muñoz makes explicit in his liner notes a need to bring back this kind of spiritual energy music. Recorded in New York on October 2001, Muñoz’ stated purpose was to “demand no less than Divine Radiance from everyone, in order to balance out the loss of light and the flood of sorrow released on September 11, 2001.

“Muñoz’ aspirations can be seen in his choice of musicians for this session—tenor sax player Ravi Coltrane is John Coltrane’s son, and tenor sax player Pharoah Sanders and drummer Rashied Ali are veterans of Coltrane’s final group. The bassists Cecil McBee and Don Pate also contribute to the proceedings, the former a fixture on Sanders’ landmark late 60s albums and the latter an associate of Gil Evans for a time. Rounding out the group is keyboardist Paul Shaffer. … And, because he’s been a friend and collaborator with Muñoz for over 30 years, nobody can doubt his sincerity.

“Muñoz’ obsession with John Coltrane may be on display throughout Divine Radiance, but his playing and composing actually brings to mind two of Coltrane’s guitarist disciples: his more tranquil moments evoke John McLaughlin, while Sonny Sharrock is the obvious signpost when Muñoz works up a good head of steam. Indeed, the ghosts of early Mahavishnu Orchestra and Last Exit hang just as heavily over Divine Radiance as Coltrane’s guiding spirit.

“The CD opens with “Moment Of Truth”, a brief melodic statement over a Jan Hammer-like wash of synths. Its sets the mood, much like the brief pieces on Keith Jarrett’s Expectations.

” “Visiting This Planet – Leaving This Planet” features an arcing melody, almost all whole notes, delivered over another wash of synths. The result is very much like Birds Of Fire-era Mahavishnu Orchestra. Muñoz unleashes a flurry of notes as the bassists lock into a complementary rhythm. Ravi also delivers a melodic solo as he builds from some basic Blues licks to some intensity. The piece ends by recapitulating the “Visiting” theme and then adding the “Leaving” theme. “Leaving” is more conventional, sounding like a movie score’s love theme.

” “Initiation By Fire” offers some muscular, McCoy Tyner-style piano playing by Shaffer as the intensity level is increased. This is closer to John Coltrane’s Meditations than something that would feature Jan Hammer. Muñoz starts out of the gate with a fiery, chromatically ascending solo. Pharoah Sanders joins in, opening with a brief quote of the “Pursuance” theme from Coltrane’s Love Supreme before launching into the stratosphere with his trademark overflowing technique. As Muñoz delivers Sharrock-like ecstatic sounds, Ravi unveils a nice melodic line.”

” “Fatherhood” is a duet between Muñoz and Shaffer … It’s a pretty melody.

“The CD finishes with the titanic blowout “Divine Radiance”. It seems to have a loose structure of solo features for 2 or 3 musicians linked by communal improvisation. This is the sort of instant composition that brings to mind Coltrane’s Ascension or Frank Lowe’s Black Beings. It features an incredibly intense duet for the bassists with subtle backing by Ali, and a duet between Sanders and Ravi where they both explore overflowing. Ali also gets a solo to highlight the fantastic energy that he’s poured into the whole album. Finally, toward the end, Muñoz goes clear into Sonic Youth territory, bowing his guitar to mirror the bowing of the basses. Amazed by the intensity of what they just played, one of the participants can be heard muttering at the end, “Woah…woah. Heh heh heh heh.”

“Somewhere, John Coltrane was smiling.”

CMJ New Music Monthly

July 28, 2003 by Tad Hendrickson

“On Divine Radiance, relatively unknown guitarist Tisziji (pronounced Tis-See-Gee) Muñoz brings together the impressive cast of Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali, Ravi Coltrane and old friend and student Paul Shaffer (who also co-produced the album) for a celestial Jazz voyage. … Muñoz is a voyager who has published books on spirituality and seeks to meld that sense of higher consciousness to his music. The music here roars on the backs of winged solos and Ali’s signatory dense rhythms, with Muñoz’s tone and flurries of notes recalling Carlos Santana’s early work. With the meat of this album in its three longest tracks (16-25 minutes each), this is for Jazz fans that like their music shooting through the stratosphere.”

Reno Gazette-Journal

July 17, 2003 by Michael Martinez

“Dichotomy. In two words “Divine Radiance” is simplicity as well as complexity. It is sheer energy that was inspired by the free jazz of John Coltrane.

“Oh, by the way, we’re talking about the latest album by guitarist Tisziji Muñoz. If you’re looking for melody, harmony and a rhythm that is a natural metronome for your feet, forget it.

“This music is meant for a different configuration of mind, body and soul. Muñoz and fellow guitarists John McLaughlin and David Torn have traversed some of the same obscure terrain. But Muñoz sees a light that reflects his spirit.

“That spirit is substantially about ‘Trane, and on this album there are trace elements throughout: his son, Ravi Coltrane; Pharoah Sanders, who built his own wall of sound style; Rashied Ali, Coltrane’s last drummer; and another cat we’ll get to later.

“Having listened to a spectrum of poseurs and pretenders to the Coltrane wailing-wall approach, it’s difficult to find anything more unique about Muñoz’s sensibilities than a comparison to ‘Trane’s stylistic approach.

“While Coltrane favored thick, fat chordal structure, Muñoz prefers the single-note, sheet-metal glissando runs. He plays along the edges of perception, while Coltrane kicked down the door.

“Ultimately the effect is the same.

“There are no easy conclusions to draw from this music; there are no obvious answers to the curiosity that Munoz’s music indefatigably poses.

“But if you need an entry point before Hurricane Tisziji blows you out of your comfortable music consciousness, listen to “Moment of Truth” and “Fatherhood,” which are rich but gentle undulations in the eye of the storm.

” “Late Night With David Letterman” music director Paul Shaffer, a longtime fan and former Muñoz collaborator, produced and performed on this record. Totally out of character for the keyboardist. But there’s no schtick here. Somebody get a cape.

“Recommended If You Like: Ambitious Lovers, Lounge Lizards, Arto Lindsey, David Torn and early John McLaughlin.”

July 11, 2003 by Eyal Hareuveni

Tisziji Muñoz/ Pharoah Sanders/ Rashied Ali/ Don Pate/ Paul Schaffer/ Ravi Coltrane  Divine Radiance    (Dreyfus)

“There are many free-minded musicians, including guitarists, who are identifying themselves with the legacy of latter-day John Coltrane. Think of volcanic eruptions of the late guitarist Sonny Sharrock, who, like guitarist Tisziji Muñoz, played with Coltrane’s band members drummer Elvin Jones and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders on his masterpiece ‘Ask The Ages’. Think of the younger guitarist Nels Cline who recorded an excellent interpretation of Coltrane’s ‘Interstellar Space’ with drummer Gregg Bendian. But Muñoz fascination with the latter-day John Coltrane is going deeper and sometimes even bordering with incest. On his new disc, he brought along Sanders, Coltrane’s last drummer, Rashied Ali, and his son, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane. Muñoz even writes in the liner notes that this recording should be an “acknowledgement of what was to be passed from Pharoah to Ravi”. But Muñoz’s innocence, conviction and even plain spiritualism and mysticism transcends any doubts about the mission that Muñoz has taken.

“Divine Radiance is the first Muñoz disc on a label other than his own Anami Music since 1978’s Rendezvous with Now (India Navigation). The record develops gradually, opening with two peaceful, even meditative pieces: the brief “Moment of Truth,” where Muñoz doubles on synth, and the 16-minute “Visiting This Planet – Leaving This Planet.” Both are beautiful, and display an interest in the earlier Atlantic recordings by Coltrane. Things begin to warm up on the third piece, “Initiation By Fire,” where Sanders shows that his recent forays into Bill Laswell-produced discs were quite misleading about the state of his playing. The fourth piece, ‘Fatherhood’ is a gentle, angular, piece for guitar and synth that does not fit with the rest of the material on the disc.

“The final, titular track is really the piece I was waiting to hear, a collective, muscular, free improvisation. Quoting Muñoz, it is really a “baptism by Heart-centered fire-Sound”. Sanders blows like he did on Coltrane’s ‘Live at the Village Vanguard Again!’ almost forty years ago. Ali shows how great a drummer he still is. Ravi Coltrane, who hardly ventures into free playing on his own discs, fits in, surprisingly, quite easily. Producer and keyboard player, Paul Shaffer, the musical director of The Late Show with David Letterman and a longtime associate and admirer of Muñoz, augments the band mainly through his synthesizer and organ playing. Muñoz, needless to say, is a virtuoso player, but his playing delivers more. It brings a feeling of purity, a deep honesty, truly divine.”

All About Jazz – New York

July 2003 by Hank Shteamer

“Quick! Name a shredding electric guitarist heavily influenced by late-period John Coltrane… If you said Sonny Sharrock, you’re probably not alone; Sharrock built a career out of translating the turbo-charged tenor saxophone sounds of Coltrane, Albert Ayler and other first-generation avant garde players to the guitar. Few know, however, that Sharrock, who seems peerless, has company in this arena.

“When the sextet led by guitarist Tisziji Muñoz, and featuring Coltrane collaborators Pharoah Sanders (who also worked with Sharrock) and Rashied Ali, charged into “Initiation by Fire” at the Village Underground last month, the first thing I thought of was Sharrock’s Ask the Ages. Everything from the instrumentation to the highly melodic quality of the written music to the thicket-like counterpoint of Muñoz and Sanders recalled that seminal release. Listening to Divine Radiance, I still think of Sharrock, but I notice that these two players use melody in very different ways. While Sharrock famously tried (very successfully, e.g. on “Devils Doll Baby” from 1986’s Guitar ) to “find a way for … terror and … beauty to live together in one song,” Muñoz’ performances tend to be either terrible (in the most ironically positive sense) or beautiful.

“The most energetic and effective track, “Divine Radiance,” a marathon collective improvisation in the general mold of Trane’s “Ascension,” undoubtedly falls into the latter category. Here, Sanders and fellow tenor man Ravi Coltrane alternate between hoarse brays and molten runs that clearly evoke the elder Coltrane, while Muñoz matches them shard for shard. The guitarist has an impressive range of sounds at his disposal; he shuffles pyrotechnic upper-register somersaults, blues-metal chunks that recall Vernon Reid, and ambient string scrapes. In total contrast to “Radiance” is “Fatherhood,” a gem-like guitar/synth duet featuring Paul Shaffer, who uses a plush, vibraphone-like tone. When Muñoz and Shaffer initiated this piece at the Underground, I was totally taken aback by its unabashed lushness. On record, Muñoz’ ringing notes float over the cloud of Shaffer’s New Age atmospheres, and if one can abide the considerably dated sound of the synth, the piece is quite affecting.

“While the performances on Divine Radiance do seem a bit one-dimensional in comparison with Sonny Sharrock’s best work, Tisziji Muñoz’s latest is, on its own terms, an extremely well-played (Ali in particular is in fine, bruising form) example of post-Coltrane free jazz that fans of this style will certainly enjoy.”