Spirit-taught, avant-garde jazz virtuoso and extreme guitarist, Tisziji Muñoz is best known for his uniquely original guitar sound and playing style, likened to that of a spiritual tornado. Born on July 15, 1946, his career has spanned over four decades and includes a vast repertoire of creative works and inspired compositions released by his independent label, Anami Music.
Tisziji has received unqualified praise from such artists and fellow collaborators as Rashied Ali, Pharoah Sanders, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Henry Kaiser and Ra Kalam Bob Moses.
Rashied Ali: “Tisziji’s music can go anywhere at any time. His open and free conception is what I’ve been working towards all my life. Tisziji Muñoz is a creative genius and he demonstrates that when we play. It is a way of life with him. He is of that different order of life, being humble, extraordinary and very spiritual.”
Phil Ramone: “Tisziji Muñoz is the Hendrix-Coltrane of the guitar. His music is pure American avant-garde.”
Tisziji’s profound interest in ‘jazz’ as a language and an innovative process was sparked in 1968 when he was introduced to the music of John Coltrane while enlisted in the US Army 440th General’s Band. Upon discharge from military service, Tisziji pursued his musical interests in Canada and took a lead role in the development of Toronto’s underground music scene, where he began a long-lasting, working relationship with pianist Paul Shaffer and performed as guitarist in the musicals Hair and Godspell.
Paul Shaffer: “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.”
In the mid-70’s, Tisziji returned to New York City and began a dynamic collaborative relationship with master-of-sound saxophonist Pharoah Sanders in such renowned settings as the Village Vanguard, the Village Gate, Sweet Basil, Fat Tuesday’s, the Keystone and Lighthouse.
Pharoah Sanders: “He thinks and plays on a higher level. Tisziji plays with that spiritual quality that is about being Free. That is in his music, that unique Sound. If you want to know about Tisziji, you have to listen to his music.”
In the years that followed, Tisziji moved to upstate New York to fulfill his destiny as a composer, author, time master/astrologer and visionary, releasing an extensive body of unique projects featuring jazz greats Pharoah Sanders, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Lam Sobo John Medeski, Ra Kalam Bob Moses, Marilyn Crispell, Paul Shaffer, Steve Kuhn, Bernie Senensky, Henry Kaiser, Don Pate, John Lockwood, Billy Hart, and the late greats Rashied Ali, Lew Soloff, John Hicks, Nick Brignola and Hilton Ruiz.
Henry Kaiser: “Tisziji’s music is essential listening for any guitarists or souls interested in how music can transcend physicality and the moment to open doors to new ideas and worlds. He is one of my biggest guitar heroes. But it’s NOT because he plays guitar. I think it’s almost completely irrelevant that Tisziji makes his music with a traditional six-string axe. What IS relevant is the music that Tisziji brings back with his guitar. For Tisziji does not reach into a bag of licks and tricks to create music, as most guitarists do. On the contrary, he goes OUT THERE SOMEWHERE and channels energy that is converted into guitar sounds by his physical being. That’s what is important to me: the message that Tisziji brings into this plane through his earthly music practice.”
A ‘guitar-god’ to many, Tisziji has adopted an ascetic lifestyle and rarely appears in public but has surfaced from time to time in the most conventional of settings. He has led the McCoy Tyner Trio at the acoustically unique Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and joined Pharoah Sanders at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Tisziji has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman as a guest artist, and at Carnegie Hall with Paul Shaffer. A historic Village Underground performance produced by Paul Shaffer featured Tisziji as leader of an all-star band including Ravi Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Paul Shaffer, Rashied Ali and Don Pate. Tisziji has been a featured artist at The Iridium and at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and his musical philosophy has been documented in numerous radio interviews, to include the BBC, Harvard University, Boston University and New England Conservatory broadcasts.
Recent collaborations between Tisziji and Lam Sobo John Medeski may have increased the public’s recognition of this creative master of melody and composition; a captivating guitarist given to lyrical torrents of free improvisation, but he remains the ‘best kept secret’ in the jazz community.
Lam Sobo John Medeski: “Tisziji’s songs are beautiful and simple yet complex and deep classic melodies, every one of them. His songs put me in the space that I most love playing music.”
An accomplished author, Tisziji has independently published numerous written works encompassing his own Heart-Fire Sound realization and embracing the subjects of spirituality, genius, creativity and time mastery. His books and music have radically transformed the manner in which musicians think and play music, validating the spirit of the genuine creative artist – from the inside out.
Ra Kalam Bob Moses: “Tisziji’s writings, for me, are so intense; a couple of lines are enough for me. It’s like it is with his music. He starts out with a melody and then it triggers more. One paragraph of his writing sends me reeling off into infinity. Tisziji’s music is fundamentally unlike any other. I unabashedly and without hesitation recognize Tisziji as a genius…not a genius of academic credentials, memory, language, technique, art, culture and tradition, but more a voodoo, juju, native, Shamanic Spirit genius. One who is free to recreate the world, in the moment, all at once, to serve the needs of Spirit, not the self. His Sound and Word destroy and heal me like no other.