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The Hartford Courant
A Romantic, Energetic Evening From Nestor Torres
By ANDRE J. BOWSER
August 26, 2002
For the headliner's last scheduled song Sunday night -- also the last day of the free New Haven Jazz Festival on the city's green - - the artist chose to perform "Over the Rainbow." Although there was no rainbow to speak of, it had just finished raining and the stars were out.
Latin Grammy Award-winning flutist Nestor Torres was one of those stars. As headliner, he shone brightest when for his set-opener the stage was lighted with a patriotic red, white and blue, the colors of his native Puerto Rico. Torres started the night with the the pulsating piece "Tambora" from the Latin Grammy winning album "This Side of Paradise."
The band performed its rendition of a tune that was also covered by Simon and Garfunkel on their "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album. Near the start of the set, "El Condor Pasa" allowed audience members to snuggle on the nippy night. Its slow, rhythmic progression and relaxing notes were masterfully presented by Torres. The tune was originally arranged in 1913 by Daniel Alomia Robles, but Torres' band found the tune to be timeless and inspirational.
"We were definitely inspired by the song," said Mary D'Elia, the band's manager. The thoughtful instrumental refrains of the piece attracted Torres to the tune and made him add it to his album "Morning Ride," D'Elia said.
On a more energetic note, the electric "Make `U' Dance" did just that. Some patrons -- who by then covered every inch of the damp green grass in front of the stage -- celebrated to the festive tune under the shelter of their umbrellas. The light drizzle didn't slow them. Bassist Ruben Rodriguez and Torres performed call and response to liven up the already lively arrangement and audience.
Keyboardist Abel Pabon, percussionist Edwin Bonilla and drummer Rey Monroig were given a chance to show off their musical prowess when the band covered Janet Jackson's "Doesn't Really Matter." However, Torres showed little creativity in the tune, preferring to punctuate changes between his band members' improvisations with only quick, airy variations.
Torres thanked the audience for coming out in the rain, which started to drop in heavy lobs around the same time his band finished "Tropianic," a weighty, sensual tune he dedicated to a woman he'd met earlier that day.
Torres' romantic strivings aside, the band was back to performing pieces "Alfonsina y El Mar" and "Cafe Cubano," both with a heavy Latin influence, before closing the hour-and-a-half set by taking the audience "Over the Rainbow."
Torres latest album, "Mi Alma Latina" (My Latin Soul), is expected in stores Tuesday.