Nestor Torres - flute, composer, recording artist, bandleader
Born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Latin jazz flutist Nestor Torres took an early interest in music, following the lead of his father, who played the piano and vibes. Torres started playing the drums at age 5 but became interested in the flute which he started studying at age 12 at The Free Music School. Torres later claimed that after hearing the famous American jazz flautist Hubert Laws, “...he changed my Life forever”.
Torres went to major in music education at the Inter-American University in nearby San German then moved to New York City with his family when he was 18 years old. There he studied classic and jazz music at Mannes School of Music, graduating in 1977.
While attending school, he also played in many New York City salsa bands in Latin dance clubs, where he learned to play Cuban dance music style known as “Charanga” style. He also came to appreciate the versatility of the flute for many different music styles, including Latin Jazz. He continued playing the New York clubs, perfecting his craft, while studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He learned the classical technique for playing the flute, but also experimented with Latin influences that would ultimately lay the foundation of his unique musical style.
Torres moved on to Miami, Florida in 1981 and signed with Polygram records in 1989. His first album, “Morning Ride,” was released the very next year and made it to the top ten of the contemporary jazz charts.
With the release of his second album, “Dance of the Phoenix,” (1991) he also toured Africa and Japan and worked with other artists including Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, and the New World Symphony. During the next few years, Torres teamed up with the famous Cuban bassist, Cachao with whom he played at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, Washington, DC, and on the David Letterman show. He played with Gloria Estefan at the Grammy Awards ceremony in 1994, the same year he released his first album for Sony Latin Jazz: “Burning Whispers.”
Torres followed with “Talk to Me,” released in 1996 and “Treasures of the Heart,” in 1999, on the Shanachie label. That album included the song “Luna Latina” which exemplifies how Torres blends jazz and Latin influences. Although Torres was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2000, losing to Carlos Santana, he won the award the next year for Best Latin Pop Instrumental album: “This Side of Paradise.” Torres next released “Mi Alma Latina” in 2002, which included interpretations classic compositions made famous by artists such as Tito Puente, Gato Barbieri, Gloria Estefan, Mongo Santamaria, and others such as “Smooth,” a top hit by Carlos Santana.