It comes as no surprise that the Columbian-born musician is exceedingly talented. You don't get the opportunity to play with Arturo Sandoval, and celebrated African performer, Richard Bona, by being less than great. It also is no surprise that Torres comes from a family deeply rooted in music, his grandfather a trombonist, and his grandmother a self-taught guitarist, and singer. These great early influences also provided the jazz records in which the percussionist was first taken by. "I went to sleep with this music and the sounds floated in my head all night long," says Torres.
If there is any surprise, it comes with Samuels' sensitivity and maturity as a composer and band leader at such a young age. The musicians on Skin Tones, the 2006 One Soul Records release, were hand-picked by Torres. John Benitez has a warm, rich tone on his electric bass that goes tightly with the time-keeping skills of drummer Ernesto Simpson. Hector Martignon on piano brings out much of the classical elements of Skin Tones, and also beautifully accompanies the soft, silky voice of Julia Dollison, which floats brilliantly over the music on tracks such as "Observatory," and "The Key." Mike Campagna on tenor saxophone and Michael Rodriguez on trumpet and flugel horn are the dynamic horn section that take this immensely diversed band from Latin jazz, to shades of early bebop, to classical jazz. Rounding out the line up for Skin Tones are Edmar Castaneda on harp, Wolfgang Barros on Columbian maracon, and Ralph Irizarry on timbales.
Skin Tones showcases the textural melodies of Samuel Torres, but it is not a show-off album. Each player here contributes and leaves thier own mark, which in turn, makes this record a modern classic for all jazz lovers. Jeff "Tain" Watts has called Torres an "inventive, lyrical and special artist" and I could not agree more.