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“It was astonishing to hear how much Tisziji’s playing has advanced from the last time I played with him. I have played with all the great guitar players, from Eric Clapton to Van Halen to Santana to Jeff Beck, and nobody plays guitar the way Tisziji Muñoz does. He is very spiritual, and as a guitar player — he swings wild.” —Paul Shaffer

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  1. Blessings
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 6:50

  2. The Mom (Prior To Cosmic Matrix)
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 12:01
  3. Time Begging For Space
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 9:00

  4. Spiritual Journey
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 11:53

  5. Space Begging For Time
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 7:42
  6. Motherhood (Heart-Blood)
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 11:46

  7. Self-Mastery
    (Tisziji Muñoz, Anami Music – BMI) 10:06

Tisziji Muñoz: Guitar & Synth
Paul Shaffer: Piano & Organ
Don Pate: Bass
Rashied Ali: Drums

Produced by Tisziji Muñoz

Recorded on September 24, 1999 at RPM Studios in NYC
Recording Engineers: Questar Welsh and Mike Muñoz
Assistant Engineers: Nancy and Rebazar Muñoz
Mixing Engineers: Mike and Tisziji Muñoz


October 2000 by Bill Smith

Tisziji Muñoz – Presence of Truth; Presence of Mastery; Presence of Joy

“Style: Free Jazz / Avante Garde

“Musicians: Muñoz (guitar); Don Pate (bass), Rashied Ali (drums); plus Truth: Hilton Ruiz (piano), Mastery: Paul Shaffer (keyboards); Joy: Dave Liebman (sax), Bernie Senensky (piano), Cecil McBee (bass).

“Review: In interviews, mega-Grammy winner Carlos Santana often pays homage to John Coltrane as an early inspiration. That’s a nice nod. Yet despite fumbling attempts at imitation, Santana’s music has never embodied the complex collision of earthly fire and spiritual transcendence of Coltrane’s late work. I used to think it was that six strings simply couldn’t conjure the gods (the devil, sure) the way a sax could. Then I heard Tisziji Muñoz a musical visionary from Schenectady, NY who sets fire to his strings with the same furious marriage of Buddhist grace and Christian fire and brimstone that Coltrane managed. Muñoz’s tone favors the same piercing wail that Carlos digs, but he combines this with Coltrane’s penchant for shards of glass drama and a buckshot blast of notes that gives the sense that the music’s burning through his flesh like stigmata. It’s an original sound that a scant few have heard. That’s because Muñoz is a fringe dweller, a spacey mystic who speaks in Ghost Dog-like platitudes (sounds like Carlos again) and releases his own discs with little or no promotion. He does have his cartel of musical supporters, though, and they show for these three recent discs.

“Premier is the rhythm team of former Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali and bassist Don Pate. They make a loose but frantic team, perfect for the leader’s helter-skelter pacing. Keyboardists Hilton Ruiz and Letterman side kick Paul Shaffer spar on Mastery and Truth but they don’t hold their own as well as sax man David Liebman does on Presence of Joy, easily the most essential of the three. Liebman’s a strong voice who fights for his solo time (a necessary evil when up against divine intervention), thoughtful to Tisziji’s stream of consciousness. He’s comfortable with Coltrane’s fury and free with Tisziji’s own tunes of furious meditation. Of course, Muñoz is the blustery star here and throughout these three works you can’t help but wonder why he isn’t a free jazz household name. I guess when the heaven’s are yours, who has time for earthly delights. ” – Guitarist Tisziji Muñoz Takes Flight Under The Radar

June 29, 2000 by Bob Margolis

“Astonishing but seldom-heard guitarist plays with three new records out on his own label.

“Right now, Tisziji Muñoz is probably the most amazing guitarist you’ve never heard of.

“That surely would change if his three new releases (on his own Anami Records), Presence of Joy, Presence of Truth and Presence of Mastery, were available in stores or widely disseminated.

“But the reclusive Muñoz doesn’t travel, play gigs or care that his music isn’t reaching the masses.

“It wouldn’t make too much sense to have Tisziji sit in on a cover of a Stone Temple Pilots tune, would it?” — Paul Shaffer, “Late Show With David Letterman” bandleader

” “I don’t have a self that is concerned with what people think about what I play,” explained the guitarist (whose name is pronounced Tiss-see-jee Moon-yos). “So I really have no interest in gigging a lot or looking for distribution for my CDs.”
“It wouldn’t make too much sense to have Tisziji sit in on a cover of a Stone Temple Pilots tune, would it?” — Paul Shaffer, “Late Show With David Letterman” bandleader

“With his white jacket and ’70s-style moustache, Muñoz looks like Andy Kaufman’s nightclub-entertainer parody Tony Clifton. But Muñoz is no joke. When the 54-year-old picks up his guitar, it’s as if the ghosts of saxophonists John Coltrane and Albert Ayler and guitar wizard Jimi Hendrix have come back in a singular, human form.

“Muñoz’s lack of “a self” may be traceable to his spiritual practice, which the guitarist speaks of through his Web site and liner notes. It involves a theory of astrology that he developed called “time mastery.” He lectures on this and other spiritual matters to the Illumination Society, a group that, like Muñoz, is based in Schenectady, N.Y.

” “Basically, we started recording my talks and publishing them. The Illumination Society is really just a publishing company. It’s a loose-knit group of people who feel drawn to me,” Muñoz said.
Prime-Time Players

“On his three new records, Muñoz is joined by a stellar cast of musicians that includes former Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali and pianist and “Late Show With David Letterman” musical director Paul Shaffer. The Presence of Joy disc finds him with saxophonist David Liebman and bassists Cecil McBee and Don Pate.

“Muñoz is reluctant to speak about his specific musical compositions, but he described a few selections from Presence of Joy. ” ‘Happy Sadness’ was part of a feeling I had about my daughters. I felt they needed the prayer. … ‘Presence of Joy’ was just total spontaneous playing. Everyone knew what to do, there was one take, and not a word was spoken.”

“Muñoz’s style comes from the same 1964–67 Coltrane period that has provided inspiration to guitarists Sonny Sharrock, John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana. On Presence of Truth, the leader covers Coltrane’s “Miles Mode” (RealAudio excerpt) with a band that features pianist Hilton Ruiz.

“Muñoz has a raging, single-note style — “playing straight into the fire,” as he calls it. (Chordal playing is painful for him as a result of an accident to his left hand when he was a child.) On the new releases, he alternates splurges of manic soloing with New Age-like interludes.

” “He really doesn’t repeat himself, which is incredible,” guitarist Henry Kaiser said. “I’ve played with him and recorded with him as well. He doesn’t go back to licks or patterns. He is really an improvising guitarist.”

“Muñoz was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He received a drum set at the age of 3, and by the time he was 13, family members had introduced him into the circle of percussionists surrounding conga master Mongo Santamaria.

“Tisziji taught himself to play guitar while serving in the 440th U.S. Army Band, where he performed as a featured percussionist. During his military stint, Muñoz met such musicians as Eric Dolphy and began a serious study of the music of Coltrane.
All Together Now

” “I hear Coltrane’s record Meditations with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and Rashied Ali as everyone being absolutely free,” Muñoz said. “The guys are playing in sympathy with each other, and they are more psychically in tune. When you listen to it carefully, you hear the harmony and the unity.”

“In 1969, the guitarist was active in the Toronto music scene. One morning, while he was playing guitar on a stoop, a York University theology student walked by and was struck by what he heard.

“That student, Paul Shaffer, recalled the incident: “I was just blown away by what he was playing. He’s been a source of inspiration for me. He really is a unique and totally improvisational musician, and his playing today sounds as strong and fresh as ever.”

“Shaffer plays on all cuts on Presence of Mastery, joined by Pate and Ali. When asked why Muñoz had never appeared with the Letterman band, Shaffer laughed. “It wouldn’t make too much sense to have Tisziji sit in on a cover of a Stone Temple Pilots tune, would it?”

“After touring with former Coltrane sideman saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and recording Rendezvous With Now for India Navigation in 1978, Muñoz moved to Schenectady, where he records whenever the mood strikes. Aesthetic Healing, the next release tentatively scheduled for late summer, will feature Muñoz with friend and musical partner Kaiser.”

The Wire

August 2000by Julian Cowley

Presence of Truth (Dharma-Kaya);
Presence of Joy (Samboga-Kaya);
Presence of Mastery (Nirmana-Kaya)

“It’s remarkable that a Brooklyn-born guitarist who has spent more than quarter of a century working with saxophone colossus Pharoah Sanders and other custodians of the Coltrane legacy should only now surface into broader public view. His name may currently be unfamiliar, but Muñoz’s music enters the world fully fledged and ready to soar.

“As the titles in this trilogy indicate, this is jazz conceived as ecstatic discipline. John Coltrane’s modal extrapolations are the essential touchstone, and his composition “Peace On Earth” is respectfully realised twice on Presence of Joy. Muñoz’s own themes are substantial enough to feed extended improvisation, yet not so imposing as to stem the flow. The guitarist’s spiritual goal may be vertical ascension, but notes issue from his instrument in headlong streams. The impact of his technical fluency and assured tone is heightened by the company he regularly keeps. Rashied Ali, Coltrane’s great interstellar companion, steers percussively towards the oceanic state. Don Pate, a former sideman of Gil Evans and Chico Freeman, plays bass with firm yet flotational touch.

“Music that professes spirituality runs the risk of becoming formulaic, offering brief package excursions into realms of intensity otherwise closed to those of us who don’t share such mystical leanings. But Muñoz’s playing is far superior to such quick fix concoctions, as he showed unequivocally on last year’s live album Great Sacrifice (Maha Yajna) which, in spite of its portentious title, included warmly terrestrial interpretations of Tony Crombie and Benny Green’s “So Near, So Far” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi”, as well as a scorching account of Coltrane’s vintage “Miles Mode”.

“Muñoz carefully rings the changes with additional personnel. Puerto Rican pianist Hilton Ruiz adds pungency to Presence of Truth. Sparks fly when the guitarist’s knife-like edge soloing glides across the ruggedly defined surface of Ruiz’s punchy and angular playing. When the pianist tries to pursue the majestic flightpath traced by Muñoz, he resembles a big cat chasing the shadow of a condor, but his frictional insistence keeps the ensemble honed. Presence of Joy sees the group expanded to a sextet. Bernie Senensky, who recorded Present Without A Trace with the group in 1997, is a more lubricant pianist than Ruiz, but Dave Liebman, always among the most estimable acolytes attending Coltrane’s shrine, injects fiery, yearning tenor and soprano bursts that add a further expressive dimension to the core ensemble sound. Another bonus is a second bassist, Cecil McBee, a veteran who added distinctive depth and colour to Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane’s classic inner space probings. On Great Sacrifice, pianist and organist Paul Shaffer played a highly restricted role, furnishing background synth effects. On Presence of Mastery he participates as a fully integrated member of a balanced and purposeful quartet. In a brief sleevenote Shaffer remarks that he has played with Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Carlos Santana, but none is comparable to Muñoz, who “swings wild”. Indeed he does, and here’s the evidence, in triplicate.”