Nestor Torres – Jazz Flute Traditions – ALFI Records

by | Jan 10, 2018 | Jazz CD Reviews

fiery flutist in full flight

Nestor Torres – Jazz Flute Traditions – ALFI Records ALFI 8817 72:23****

( Nestor Torres – flute; Silvano Monasterios – piano; Jamie Ousley – bass; Michael Piolet – drums; José Gregorio Hernandez – percussion; Special Guests: Miguel Russell – percussion tracks#2,3,11; Ian Muños – alto sax tracks#2,6,8; Marcus Grant – drums track #8)

Jazz flutist Nestor Torres is just that… a jazz flutist. He is not an alto sax or tenor sax player who doubles on flute. From the very beginning, he has concentrated on the instrument and has honed his skills accordingly. His most recent jazz outing is Jazz Flute Traditions where he provides a “tour d’horizon” of some of the great jazz flute players covering the compositions associated with them.

Canadian jazz great Moe Koffman ( a multi-instrumentalist) wrote “Swingin’ Shepherd ( not Shepherds as in the liner notes) Blues in 1957 where it became a hit in the US rising to #23 on the Billboard charts. After a funky bluesy piano opening from Silvano Monasterios, Torres offers a straight-forward run through of the melody, after which Monasterios demonstrates that he is penetrating  pianist with a rousing touch. Bassist Ousley is then given some solo space before Torres takes the tune out.

There is a seamless transition to Herbie Mann’s “Memphis Underground” which has a striking Latin groove. While Torres carries most of the load, guest altoist Ian Muños chips in a few well modulated bars. Miles Davis 1960 release of Sketches of Spain working in collaboration with arranger Gil Evans, was a departure from his previous releases. The first and longest track of the release was the Adagio from Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto De Aranjuez” and this may have been a stretch from a jazz perspective even for Davis. In this version, Torres has opted for a more traditional Latin interpretation with all the drive, flavour and bristling feel that the complex structure of the composition allows.

Compared to most wind instruments used in the jazz idiom such as the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and clarinet, the flute is a relative newcomer. Although the first recorded jazz flute solo may have come as early as 1927, it wasn’t until the broad use of electronic amplification in the 40s in both a band and recording context, that the flute came to be recognized as a versatile jazz instrument. Sequentially, there was also a change in style and technique of flute playing which is exemplified by Torres in a free jazz piece “ Sequenza/Gazzelloni”. Severino Gazzelloni was an Italian who was self-taught on the flute, and was experimenting with new sounds and technique which influenced many players including Eric Dolphy and Torres.

Of the remaining tracks Neal Hefti’s “Cute” is a swinging gem that the Count Basie Band made playfully engaging and featured a delightful flute solo from Frank Foster. In his take of the number, Torres plays a transcription of Foster’s solo in the first chorus. The final track is “Miami Beach Rumba” cuts a Latin path filled with bracing power and bright improvisations. The addition of percussionist Miguel Russell provides an invigorating theatricality to the number.

Nestor Torres is a fiery flutist in full flight.

Swingin’ Shepherds Blues
Memphis Underground
Jungle Fantasy
Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez/Spain
The Golden Flute
Serenade To A Cuckoo
So In Love
Miami Beach Rhumba

—Pierre Giroux

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