Squawk Radio

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Liz Gives You Music to Ease into Summer

It wasn’t all fun and tornados here this week. We had a taste of what’s to come in the form of one picture-perfect day in the 70s filled with blue sky and warm breezes. Such days always make me run to the CD collection in a hunt for warm weather music with which to stock the car and kitchen, because I know summer can’t be far behind. (Though, this being Kentucky in April, we could still realistically have some snow. Oog.)

Nestor Torres is a flutist born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, an island for whose music I have great affection. He began studying the flute classically at age twelve, but at age eighteen, after his family moved to New York, he began playing charanga (Cuban dance music). As he explains on his web site, “In charanga, the flutist improvises a great deal--the focus of his solos are to make people dance. Even when I play today, my approach is still very rhythmic and melodic.” He later studied classical and jazz, and, coupled with his cultural heritage, ended up with a style that is generally defined as latin jazz. (But ya ask me, a lot of his stuff is pure jazz.)

“Morning Ride” is his first album, the one where I discovered him, thanks to a recommendation from my sister-in-law, a native of Colombia who has turned me on to more good music than I can say. It’s just a really wonderful collection, a little jazzy, a little dancey, a little latin, a lot of fun. The songs “Make U Dance” and “Sato’s Song” are probably my favorites on the album, because both are just so happy and make me smile. But there’s mellow stuff, too, songs that are just nice for listening to (preferably while sipping a rum and tonic). There’s Torres’s rendition of “El Condor Pasa,” which he jazzes up and strings out in a way that is uniquely his. And “Seven Steps to Heaven” is one of those pure jazz numbers that make you feel like you’re sitting in a smoky club grooving with the hep cats. Other numbers on the CD, like “Tropicalia” and the title track make you feel like you just stepped off a boat and into an island paradise.

I recommend the CD for cooking something exotic, umbrella drinks on the deck, or your next party where you want everyone to feel relaxed. Or if you just feel like taking a quick mental trip to the Caribbean.

Bon voyage, everybody!
Elizabeth Bevarly, 11:10 AM