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Torres, Nestor

Born in Mayag├╝ez, Puerto Rico, Latin jazz flutist Nestor Torres took an early interest in music, following the lead of his father, who played the piano and vibes. Torres started playing the drums at age 5 but became interested in the flute which he started studying at age 12 at The Free Music School. Torres later claimed that after hearing the famous American jazz flautist Hubert Laws, “...he changed my Life forever”.

Torres went to major in music education at the Inter-American University in nearby San German then moved to New York City with his family when he was 18 years old. There he studied classic and jazz music at Mannes School of Music, graduating in 1977.

While attending school, he also played in many New York City salsa bands in Latin dance clubs, where he learned to play Cuban dance music style known as “Charanga” style. He also came to appreciate the versatility of the flute for many different music styles, including Latin Jazz. He continued playing the New York clubs, perfecting his craft, while studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He learned the classical technique for playing the flute, but also experimented with Latin influences that would ultimately lay the foundation of his unique musical style.

Torres moved on to Miami, Florida in 1981 and signed with Polygram records in 1989. His first album, Morning Ride was released the very next year and made it to the top ten of the contemporary jazz charts.

But 1991 marked a turning point in Torres’ life. A horrible boating accident left him with a collapsed lung, broken collar bones and 18 factured ribs. The accident and his 7 month period of recuperation changed his personal life and artistic career. Torres had to learn a whole new approach to the playing the flute and he became a practitioner of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism which he claims gave him a new and viewpoint on life.

His career was back on track again with the release of his second album, Dance of the Phoenix later that same year. He also toured Africa and Japan and worked with other artists including Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Marc Anthony and the New World Symphony.

During the next few years, Torres teamed up with the famous Cuban bassist, Cachao with whom he played at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, Washington, DC, and on the David Letterman show. He also appeared on Gloria Estefan’s album Mi Tierra; ironic since Estefan had survived a terrible bus crash. He played with her at the 1994 Grammy Awards ceremony in 1994, the same year he relased his first album for Sony Latin Jazz: Burning Whispers.

Torres followed with Talk to Me, released in 1996 and Treasures of the Heart in 1999, on the Shanachie label. That album included the song Luna Latina which exemplifies how Torres blends jazz and Latin influences.

Although Torres was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2000, losing to Carlos Santana, he won the award the next year for Best Latin Pop Instrumental album: This Side of Paradise. Torres next released Mi Alma Latina in 2002, which included interpretations classic compositions made famous by artists such as Tito Puente, Gato Barbieri, Gloria Estefan, Mongo Santamaria, and others such as Smooth, a top hit by Carlos Santana.

Perhaps the greatest contemporary Latin jazz flutist, Torres has earned a great many fans with his unique mix of Latin, jazz and pop music.

Discography

Mi Alma Latina: My Latin Soul (2002)

This Side of Paradise (2001)

Treasures of the Heart (1999)

Talk to Me (1996)

Burning Whispers (1994)

Dance of the Phoenix (1990)

Morning Ride (1989)

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