Bassist Joan Torres
calls his group All Is Fused. Before
, the band's début recording, features electric bass, electric guitar and (mostly) electric keyboards. Is this a fusion album?
Yes and no. Torres knows his fusion history, and appropriates from it with a sure touch. On "Doorway," the group channels the light samba sound of pianist Chick Corea
's Return to Forever
(ECM, 1972). On "Another World" and "The Chase," in contrast, they draw upon the rapid-fire guitar lines (here, doubled on electric bass) heard on drummer Billy Cobham
(Atlantic, 1973), equally derived from bebop and heavy metal.
But elsewhere, the sound is one of energetic bop ("Vicissitudes") or mid-tempo post-bop ("Disbelief," "True"). In short, this is intelligent electro-acoustic jazz in the vein of Donny McCaslin
's Perpetual Motion
(Greenleaf, 2011), not the pile-driving rock-funk sound of Headhunters or other mid-1970s purveyors of the fusion genre.
Pianist David Ojeda and guitarist Sergio González, in particular, are given generous solo space. Spirited, if at times a little green, soloists, each achieves transcendent moments. Alto saxophonist Jonathan Suazo, meanwhile, is more assured, and on "Disbelief" renders a solo of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
-like bluesy fluency. Drummer Fernando García is especially imaginative and energetic on the upbeat numbers.
Torres himself is reserved as a soloist. When he steps forward (as on "Disbelief" and "True"), he offers a tasteful and restrained improvisation.
The compositions display a dynamic and stylistic diversity; they tend to be pleasing sequences of chords more than appealing melodies.
Torres and his young confrères are part of an effervescent young jazz scene in Puerto Rico
. Another leading light of that scene is guitarist Gabriel Vicens
, whose fine, ambitious début Point In Time
(self-produced, 2012), preceded Before
by a few months. (Vicéns's record also featured Suazo's alto sax.) Vicéns takes the guitar chair on the last two cuts of Torres's record, where his matrix-like improvisational approach complements perfectly the sound of Torres's group.
Personnel: Jonathan Suazo: alto saxophone; David Ojeda: piano; Sergio González: guitar (1-6);
Gabriel Vicéns: guitar (7-8); Joan Torres: bass; Fernando García: drums.