Mega-talented, Columbia reared percussionist Samuel Torres extends his superior percussion faculties by transmitting an impressive compositional pen on his second outing as a leader. Torres’ fluent command of Latin and world-beat rhythms underlines his thoughtful and snappy arrangements, featuring prominent jazz artists, tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and guest clarinetist Anat Cohen.
Torres and his band generate gobs of pop and sizzle throughout the program. He embarks upon a few world-groove solo interludes within the grand schema, yet the sum of the parts equate to a rhythmic paradise. Torres employs an arsenal of hand-drums and mallet instruments while adding prismatic textural mechanisms to complement and outline the punchy horns, oscillating funk pulses, and Latin-jazz motifs.
Guest vocalist Sofia Rei Koutsovitis offers a lyrically resplendent vibe atop the leader’s indigenous Afro-Latin underpinnings on the flavorful piece, "Ronca el Canalete." And pianist Manuel Valera’s swift phrasings add to the bravura and zip heard on "Lincoln Tunnel, where the band injects odd-metered choruses into a spicy hot Afro-Cuban theme. Moreover, Torres and his ensemble pronounce an optimistic gait, interspersed with unanticipated diversions and powerful solos by Frahm, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and others.
Torres communicates a worldly stance amid these largely, memorable works. It’s an uplifting feast for the heart and soul. Other than his first-call session status, he shines as a formidable bandleader who possesses enviable technical gifts and a fertile imagination, all underscored by fire and passion.