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'The Beginning' has a very informal sound to it despite the tightness of the musicians. The songs come across as casual, as if the product of a bunch of guys jamming together on a Saturday afternoon. The result is an understated artfulness that is uncommonly vivid and starkly forceful.

Music Review: Joan Torres’s All Is Fused – ‘The Beginning’

Joan Torres’s All Is Fused band’s latest album of progressive jazz grew out of their performance at Heineken’s Ventana al JazzFest in Condado, Puerto Rico, in April of 2014. Due to the method of funding the album’s production, Torres was able to have total artistic control. He wisely elected to keep the production values simple.

The music, though, is complex. Torres was able to round up an extraordinary group of musicians for his band: Sergio Gonzalez and Gabriel Vicens on guitars, Fernando Garcia on drums, and Jonathan Suazo on alto sax. Torres, of course, plays bass. Then there was the addition of a couple of session players: Emanuel Rivera on the piano and Gerson Orjuela on drums.

The BeginningJazz is the foundation of the album, but Torres’s eclectic background makes itself evident, exposing elements of various disciplines: rock and roll, blues, funk-a-delic, and classical. The group’s music is scrumptiously percussive and innovative. Unlike many progressive bands, they take a lot of musical risks, like explorers entering a maze of their own design.

The prize of the album is “There Was You.” The melody is sad and somber, heavy with the regret of nostalgia; Suazo’s sax soars above like a siren’s song, enticing and charming listeners to enter its embrace. The tempo varies as the piano and the bass provide excellent protracted solos. Imagine Dicky Betts performing the Latin Jazz version of “Jessica.”

“Disruption” carries on the extended bass and piano solos, although in this song the heaviness has vanished and been replaced with commotion. “Nightmare” sounds like Uriah Heep playing psychedelic rock on electric dobros. Listeners will gasp as Rivera pulls off miracles on the piano. The song provides actual visceral pleasure as one listens to it.

The Beginning contains a lot of driving beats, along with great technique and musical intelligence, almost a sixth sense that is worth attention. The songs are idiosyncratic but very entertaining. The idiosyncrasy stems from Torres’s delicate use of articulate minimalism. Really, the album’s only flaw is the title, The Beginning, which is outdated and somewhat sophomoric. Other than that, the album is superlative, one that progressive jazz aficionados should add to their collection.

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About Randall Radic

Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.

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