Joan Torre’s All Is Fused – Before
“Personalization of a thing, which jazz artists love to do, is a hard thing to define” – Wynton Marsalis
As far as comparison and adequate description is concerned, there is really no point in my faking it. I’m as far from an expert on jazz as I am from being a 9-year old girl in pigtails. All I know is what pricks up these ears and what doesn’t, and San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Joan Torre’s All Is Fused is one of those bands/albums that has opened my eyes just a little bit more to the jazz genre and with good reason. Their debut album titled Before, is a rich and supremely played batch of compositions that are so obviously steeped in knowledge and love for the craft.
A near lifelong student of music appreciation, Joan Torres took up the bass guitar at the early age of 11. From there he has earned the well-deserved respect of his peers and has gathered an impressive resume of playing in various bands of all styles. He has studied under some of the greats such as Puerto Rican legend Tony Batista, and Mathew Garrison (son of Coltrane bassist Jimmy Garrison), as well as being offered numerous scholarships with Berklee College of Music and others. All of this and he hasn’t even peaked yet! The sure sign of an accomplished musician with the muse in his blood.
Before marks Torres first foray into composing and performing the music that he has written and had in his head over the years, and he has picked a perfect set of musicians to help make it reality. The album is a multi-faceted and laid back affair, offering a well versed tapestry of everything from Cuban jazz, standards, jazzed out space rock, and a bit of bossanova. Some have described (with all due respect, I am sure) Before as being background music, but I don’t think that’s necessarily fair. While it is definitely music for those more relaxed moments, there are dynamics at play that keep it from fading into the scenery. Even on songs like “Disbelief”, with slow burn intentions, sweet piano lead, and lightly brushed drums bringing to mind candle lit dinners in New York restaurants, it is still an arresting song. Or the tasty vibes of “Another World” where jazz fusion and space rock flirt as an unlikely couple, it is impossible not to be caught in its complex structure. And it is this structure that appeals to me as with any good jazz album. With the right players who bring love to the table and a worthy composer to guide them an album like this can be a game changer.
I may not know much about jazz and I may feel like a bit of a chump in trying to sell an album with words that feel unlearned, but like any good music it brings about a feeling of passion. Before has some fantastic musicianship and Torres has done well in gathering his cast of musicians, especially in drummer Fernando Garcia. Good Lord, that guy can play!
If you’re a broad minded fan of jazz then this album is for you. It shines, it surprises, it flows well, and is a worthy addition to any music lover’s collection.
~ Nathan Pike