Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Even at a young age, Joan Torres was drawn to music. As a little boy he had a small guitar and then a small keyboard with which he spent a lot of time making "interesting" sounds. It wasn't until he was 10 years old that he seriously considered starting playing an instrument with a group. He chose the bass and when he turned 11 he finally got one and his life was changed forever.

He began studying the instrument with a private instructor then individually when the instructor moved away. He formed a Rock band with a couple of friends from school when he was in 8th grade (2001) and they basically covered songs to perform in talent shows and class parties.

In the year 2003, he joined his school's new choir directed by Orlando Collado, a Berklee alumnus who quickly became a mentor and a friend, as a bass singer. He also decided to start working on original material and enrolled in the after-school Stevan Micheo Music Academy. There he met drummer Fernando Garcia, who has joined him in many endeavors throughout the years. Furthermore, during his time there, he acquired the core for most of his musical knowledge today. He studied the electric bass, reading and performing in Jazz under bassist Joel Marrero. In addition, he learned the basics of Jazz harmony and theory under one of his mentors, guitarist Antonio Caraballo. At this time he began to explore composition.

In 2004 he auditioned for the Berklee in Puerto Rico workshops and was chosen to attend that year in May. During this time he met another one of his mentors, Oscar Stagnaro. He once again attended the Berklee in Puerto Rico program the following year, this time meeting the people who got him playing his first jazz gigs at local restaurants. Later that summer he attended the Berklee Summer Performance Program in Boston. There he studied with many world-renowned musicians including private instructor Matthew Garrison. He was also asked by Victor Mendoza to join his "Salsa Ensemble". In this ensemble he met Gabriel Lugo and Marcos Lopez both talented puertorican percussionists. At the end of the Berklee program he was awarded with a scholarship to attend Berklee as a full-time student.

He was also invited to join many other different projects. He joined plena orchestra "Plena Juventud" with fellow musician Gabriel Lugo. He also joined jazz group "Indaka Jazz Quartet" where he met guitarist Gabriel Vicens with whom he's been friends ever since. Later he joined a new reggae group who was looking for a bassist that eventually became the local indie group "Raices Rusticas".

Through many steady gigs, and jam sessions he played with many people including Mario Castro, Jeremy de Jesus and Enrique Trinidad. He once again attended the Berklee in Puerto Rico workshops and his ensemble was chosen to play at the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest on June 4th, 2006. That summer he began to study the upright bass with local legend Tony Batista who became a friend and a big influence on developing his skills. Later, Raices Rusticas opened for Black Guayaba at the Arena Pier Ten September 9, 2006, their first big show performing original music.

After he graduated high school and moved to the town of Mayaguez to study engineering, he joined the University's Choir "Coral Universitaria". After one semester there, the director asked him to move to the university's more exclusive choir "Corium Canticus" in which he stayed for the next 4 years. During his time there, the choir was chosen to take part in a choir competition in Argentina in 2008 where they were awarded a gold medal for the score of their performance.

In May 2007 he attended the Berklee in Puerto Rico workshops for the last time where he was awarded another scholarship to attend the college and was again part of the ensemble chosen to play at the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest on June 3rd.

In Summer 2009 Raices Rusticas decided to focus their efforts on their original material. That year they recorded new original songs, got the chance to film a music video for their single "Free Taste" and were chosen as one of the 13 reggae bands to represent Puerto Rico's reggae movement in the first of Sembrando Semillas compilation albums. Their single in that album "Suerte" got them new fans and greater exposition. Afterwards in 2010, they had the chance to play throughout the island of Puerto Rico in the Reggae Road Trip, Sembrando Semillas's Summer tour. Their song was also featured in the Rip Curl Pro Search 2010 radio promo. The event was held in Isabela, Puerto Rico where they also performed on October 30th.

After the success of the Sembrando Semillas movement, he was able to launch the website www.CulturaJazz.com, dedicated to promoting the Jazz scene in Puerto Rico. The project grew enough so that in 2011 they were recognized as press in local events including the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest. However, the community began to dwindle and on April 26, 2014 Culturajazz closed down after 4 years of service.

In Summer 2011, long-time friend, guitarist Gabriel Vicens and Joan Torres himself started their own project, a Modern Jazz Quintet playing original compositions. Eventually, the project became two separate projects, one of them being the Gabriel Vicens Quintet, in which Joan Torres took part for its earliest incarnation.

Joan Torres decided after his experience with the Gabriel Vicens Quintet to revisit some of the compositions he had made over the years along with some new ideas. He began working on those ideas, got a repertoire of original music together and recruited a new group to perform these Modern Jazz Fusion tunes. It can be said that these tunes synthesize a lot of his musical experiences and influences over the years. Joan was able to perform his music with the group, All is Fused, for the first time at the local Nuyorican Cafe on December 21st, 2011. They recorded their first album on January 10 and 11 at Playbach Studio; it features Sergio Gonzalez, David Ojeda, Fernando Garcia, Jonathan Suazo and Gabriel Vicens. It was released May 21, 2012.

During the first half of 2013 Joan Torres performed with many well-known local artists like singer-songwriters Fana and Rique Colon. He along with drummer Fernando Garcia offered drum and bass clinics at Stevan Micheo Music. In February, his group performed some of the music from the album "Before" in a Jazz forum for the community of the Puerto Rico Music Conservatory. In March 2013 Joan Torres's All is Fused was nominated in two categories for the 12th Annual Independent Music Awards for their critically-acclaimed debut album "Before". During November 2013, they went on tour through New Orleans, Louisiana. Once they returned home they started working on their second album.

Joan Torres started working on a new concept for the second All is Fused album. The music is very different from the first one having a darker mood and more intense tone. However, the music was written by the same person, with the same influences, so it is a new chapter on this musical adventure. The new album, The Beginning, was recorded on February 24 and 25, 2014 at Playbach Studio. It mainly features the same ensemble: Sergio Gonzalez and Gabriel Vicens on Guitars, Fernando Garcia on Drums, Jonathan Suazo on Alto Sax, with new additions of Emanuel Rivera on Piano and Gerson Orjuela on Drums. On April 27, 2014 they performed a set featuring music from the new album for Heineken's Ventana al JazzFest in Condado, Puerto Rico. The ensemble launched an indiegogo campaign to help fund this album which was successfully funded on May 2, 2014. The Beginning is set to release August 2014.

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