Eight tracks of progressive jazz fusion goodness make up Joan Torres’ All Is Fused’s latest release, “Of The Musical”. The Puerto Rico-born Torres, currently in San Francisco, brought together some names new and familiar to this November 2016 release: Jonathan Suazo (alto saxophone), Sergio González (guitar), Gabriel Vicéns (guitar), Emanuel Rivera (piano), Fernando García (drums), and JoanTorres himself (bass).
While the building blocks of good old jazz numbers abound, and solidly so, there are a lot of tweaks and turns that keep listeners engaged and on their toes. Namely, each of the songs is a number in a musical,to be listened to in sequential order. The album is separated in two acts, with the familiar ups and downs of any good story.And just like with many narratives, the beginning sounds a little halting and confusing, as is seeking to find a solid footing.“Invaded”, for example,seems quite chaotic at times, even if it maintains a core that progresses steadily as one would expect a song to do. The chaos has a progressive rock flavour, a number of tempo changes, and a couple of different alternating melodic backgrounds. It feels like this track could have easily gone from interesting to overwhelming, but the band keeps it from going overboard.
Also, most of the tracks are rich enough to tell a story that is slightly different with each listen.“Invaded” seems mostly rich and upbeat but also has a tinge of uncertainty imbedded in it. The drum- and bass-heavy “Demiurge” is urgent at times, while the more contemporary sounding “Explore” underlines some great keyboard playing skills—sometimes a little heavy-handedly. In “Unleashed”, the story has come together, evidenced by the way the solos bounce off easily from the main tune and right back in again.
“Ultramarine” deftly uses the keyboard and guitars to create a dynamic yet somber, contemplative, and pensive feel. There is something about this number that is reminiscent of the ocean, and not just because of the aquatic-like sounds and rhythms. Almost like listening to music underwater, even the progressive jazz inspiration behind this album becomes somewhat muffled, making place for more rock influences to come through. Similarly, the elegant “Look Around” seems to place the main progressive jazz influence of this album behind a thick, soundtrack lens for a scene in a psychological thriller.
The most interesting aspect of this album is that the music itself isn’t new; it’s a lot of sounds that have been heard before. But the way it has been put together creates a new type of challenge for listeners—to understand the movement of the overall story being told.Tracks are available for streaming on Bandcamp. More information is available on Joan Torres’ website and Facebook page.