American jazz and Brazilian bossa nova are not quite the same, but the Bobby Torres Ensemble wastes no time in combining the two styles by incorporating a community of sounds and musicians.
American jazz and Brazilian bossa nova are not quite the same, but the Bobby Torres Ensemble wastes no time in combining the two styles by incorporating a community of sounds and musicians. The ensemble has produced one album entitled It’s Heaven I Surmise and is sharing their music with jazz enthusiasts at multiple Portland venues.
Though the ensemble has produced only one album, Torres himself has appeared or worked collaboratively on many records, including Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen, The Captain and Tenille’s Do It To Me One More Time and Gladys Knight’s 1980 studio recordings. These recordings have helped put Bobby Torres on the short list of talented jazz musicians in the Portland area, and though many Portlanders may consider his ensemble a local project, it encompasses talented and experienced players who bring upbeat excitement to each performance.
The ensemble started after Torres recorded an album with multiple horns and a larger sound. This inspired him to make that the basis of his new group, which became the Bobby Torres Ensemble.
“I recorded a CD and I used five horns on it and I liked it,” Torres said. “I started having…three singers at one time…It is just so much more fun when you have that many people and you are all in sync.”
Their use of horns, keys, rhythm and vocals creates a layering that all great jazz music is based off of. The ensemble consists of roughly nine members including vocalists Karla Harris, Carmelo Torres (who will be touring with Jason Mraz) and Julana Torres. The band also features horn player Lars Campbell, co-leader of the Portland Jazz Orchestra. Each of those sounds, combined with the depth that Bobby himself brings to the stage, makes the Bobby Torres Ensemble a group that continually blesses the Portland jazz genre.
Each song has a mix of American jazz and Latin musical details. This was inspired by Torres’ Latin background and influences from artists like Cocker, Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente.
“I used to play Latin [music] in New York and then I got into rock and roll when I started playing with Joe Cocker…I wanted to play more jazz, something more challenging, and being I’m Latin, I wanted to have a Latin tinge in everything I played,” Torres said.
Though Torres was born in New York and lived in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, he has grown to love the local community in Portland.
“I live in Portland, Oregon,” Torres said. “The best city in the world…this is paradise to me compared to any other.”
The Bobby Torres Ensemble will be playing regular shows at Portland venues including Paragon Restaurant and the Heathman Hotel Tea Room as well as other independent shows around the city.