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  • Jonathan Widran

Luis Muñoz with Lois Mahalia, The Infinite Dream

Closing in on a fascinating quarter century as a multi-faceted recording artist, Costa Rican born, California based drummer, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and orchestrator Luis

Muñoz joins forces with the exquisite Guyanese vocalist Lois Mahalia (Joe Walsh, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Michael McDonald, Joe Sample) to create The Infinite Dream.

Inspired by a close encounter with mortality, desperation and darkness, and Muñoz's desire to foster a spirit of Light, Gratitude and Love, it’s a genre transcendent masterwork uniquely reflecting our troubled times - and our need for hope in its midst. Centered around a lilting jazzy flow artfully tinged with elements of R&B, Latin music, rousing gospel and – on the funky/bluesy, high octane title track anthem (subtitled JPGR for John Paul George Ringo) – the buoyant, eternal spirit of The Fab Four, the album is musical poetry in motion from start to finish.

Throughout the collection, Muñoz, Mahalia and their powerful supporting musicians urgently invite us to pay attention to every incisive, heartbreaking, encouraging and uplifting word and emotional drop of soul that Mahalia has gifted these expansive, lushly orchestrated arrangements with. Mostly slow simmering, soul stirring and meditative expressions covering the spectrum of human emotions, the six tracks preceding the closing title tune demand our pin drop attention as they use clever metaphors and sometimes abstract imagery to illuminate hard-hitting themes like the fragility of peace (“Irene,” whose literal identity stays a mystery) and the dark, hideous consequences of heroin addiction (“And Blood at Midnight”).

Muñoz, whose array of instruments includes mellotron, piano Wurlitzer and Rhodes electric pianos and alto flutes, balances these heavier ruminations with bursts of light via the moody, sensual opener “Dreams Foretold” (featuring a wistful trumpet solo by Jonathan Dane and the ultimate triumph of love and meaningful dreams over darkness and despair.

The colorful bridges between these extremes are the tender, understated soul ballad “Into the Sun” (an invitation to fly back to the welcoming warmth of home) and what is perhaps the collection’s most immediately compelling track “Hymn,” in which Mahalia takes us to church to remind us to “Open your heart to the world and rejoice. . .Learn as if you’ll live forever and hope as if hope is the Love with no fear and no sorrow.”

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