Jazz flutist and Latin Grammy Award winner Nestor Torres has been captivating audiences with his eclectic mix of Latin, jazz and pop sounds for more than 15 years. Born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 1957, he took flute lessons at age 12 and began formal studies at the Escuela Libre de Musica, eventually attending Puerto Rico’s Inter-American University. At 18, he moved to New York with his family.
"That’s where I first developed my improvisational skills as a charanga
(Cuban dance music) flutist," he says in a press release. "In charanga, the flutist improvises a great deal; the focus of his solos is to make people dance. Even when I play today, my approach is still very rhythmic and melodic."
Now, he joins the growing Heads Up family of jazz artists with Sin Palabras (Without Words)
. The album features a reworking of the Latin classic Contigo Apprendi, the Alejando Sanz hit Regalame La Silla Donde Te Espere, and nine original tunes. In addition to Nestor’s fine musicianship, Sin Palabras
features a number of talented producers, including James Lloyd (from Pieces of a Dream) on seven tracks, and Jimmy Haslip (of the Yellowjackets) on two.
The songs are all rhythmic and expertly performed. The traditional jazz listener may object to the exclusive use of programming in place of real drums, but the presence of live percussionists on four tracks may appease such discriminating tastes. Further, the programming isn’t the drums-in-a-can variety common to "smooth" jazz or instrumental R&B. You won’t find any annoying loops that distract from the other instruments.
Programming aside, Sin Palabras
is an excellent assembly of modern music.
On Labios Dulzes (Sweet Lips)
, Torres provides vocals with his flute dancing over a hip-hop beat. Haslip lays down an involving bass track.
Italian producer Carlo Pennisi co-wrote Piper Dance
and Da Muse
with Torres. Those tracks feature the horns of trumpeter Chuck Willis and saxophonist Wayne DeLano.
One of the cooler songs on the album is Lloyd’s composition Gypsy Dancer
. It’s a rhapsody with a funky edge.
In all, Sin Palabras (Without Words)
is an album contemporary jazz lovers, especially those who like a little urban flavor mixed in, won’t want to miss.