Nestor Torres,
Sin Palabras (Without Words)
(Heads Up, 2004)

I have to admit I was a bit put off by this CD when I discovered it was smooth jazz with a Latin feel. On Without Words, though, Nestor Torres pulls off the mixture as well as anyone could.

It helps that Torres is an excellent jazz flautist. He has a number of different ways of playing, switching easily from smooth to staccato. And Latin rhythms let flautists add a lot of variety to their playing with the multilayering of different beats.

The title track sounds Mexican, with guitar, percussion and a hint of trumpet over a nice melody. "Sweet Lips" is an interesting, minor key work with background vocals. There are some nice funky beats on "Maybe Tonight," "Gypsy Dancer" and "Piper Dance."

Others, though, sound ready made for the local "Jazz for Lovers" radio station, without distinguishing characteristics. Fortunately, there are only a few of these "use as background music" cuts. Most of the softer cuts, like "Lluvias De Cristal," are redeemed by being beautiful or complex enough to retain the listener's interest.

The most notable characteristic here is the production, which is credited to three of the musicians who play on the CD: James Lloyd (keyboards and programming), Jimmy Haslip (bass and vocals) and Carlo Pennisi (guitar, keyboards and programming).

Everything is smoothed out almost to the point of being muted. There seems to be an exceptional amount of programming, and the producers do not hesitate to use the characteristic smooth jazz synthesizer settings.

This CD's appeal will likely depend on how much you like smooth jazz. If you do, it is a good bet. If not, it won't offend you, but you should look elsewhere for something to add to your collection.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 12 June 2004

Buy it from