On his sweeping, eclectic Farenheit Records debut The Fruit of Eden, Costa Rican-born veteran composer/percussionist/drummer Luis Munoz draws upon his rich Latin music heritage, a formal classical education, and an intense interest in American jazz to create a colorful pastiche where melody easily crosses all rhythmic and cultural lines. Co-produced by Dominic Camardella (who has helmed projects for Maynard Ferguson, Ottmar Liebert, and Willie & Lobo), The Fruit of Eden marks Munoz' U.S. recording debut with an explosive introduction to a talent that has been wowing Latin America for many years. Helping Munoz realize his fruitful visions on The Fruit of Eden are some of the top all-star talents in Latin music and contemporary jazz, including bassist Randy Tico (who released Earthdance on Higher Octave Music), saxmen Gary Meek and Tom Buckner, percussionist Kevin Winard, and keyboardist Adam Asarnow. The energetic elegance of the entire Munoz experience comes alive on the opening tune, "Topacio (Topaz)," which mixes Asarnow's jazzy Latin piano feel with an attractive melodic tradeoff between Buckner's soprano and Jeff Elliot on flügelhorn. As its title promises, "Calipso de las Americas" is a bold and brassy tropical dance gem, complete with a vibrant steel drum melody (by Ross Harper), a mix of horns, and a spirited vocal chorus. A lilting "Argentina" and the moody, haunting "Desire (El Deseo)" offer a unique look at the reflective, romantic aspects of Munoz's exquisite composing skills, while the free-flowing "Tierranegra" blends piccolo flute, muted trumpet, and flügelhorn for a Baroque-flavored ode to his Brazilian musical idols.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran