Jazz Fusion | Joan Torres's All Is Fused: Embrace Form (Independent / 20 January 2024)

Jazz Fusion
Joan Torres's All Is Fused: Embrace Form
(Independent / 20 January 2024)

Embrace Form is a celebration of longevity for the fusion band known as Joan Torres' All Is Fused. Originally intended as a 10th anniversary marker, the band is now in its 13th season.

JOan Torres: Embrace Form album cover

Bassist, composer, producer Joan Torres has led the Jazz Fusion ensemble All Is Fused since 2011. With five albums released to date, multiple awards and nominations, 

The Music

When it comes to 'fusion', what might be fused, you might want to know? The album notes talk about pop, lounge and jazz. The notes quote the band:

Embrace Form is an album that explores the relationship between experimental instrumental music and popular music. Sometimes it's easier to write experimental music that follows no rules other than "sound musical", but by leveraging familiar forms and enhancing or appropriating them to fit our expressive style we can also expand our vocabulary and the diversity of our repertoire.

How does that translate into the tracks themselves?

Tracks on this record feature common musical forms or compositional techniques such as verse-chorus ("Explode"), vamps ("Friends, Memories, Loops"), canon ("Crystalline") as well as improvisational forms that are open ("Cotati Reset") or that follow call-and-response patterns ("Caribbean Mountains"). These familiar forms are then modified to bring listeners something familiar with a twist.

Joan Torres' All Is Fused (Photo by Andrew Westhoff)
Joan Torres' All Is Fused (Photo by Andrew Westhoff)

The Album

The opening track, Cotati Reset, illustrates the concept perfectly well. Form emerges slowly from a collection of notes, melody begins, rhythms suggest a pattern that might develop... It's also a take on natural sounds like insects and wind - a very interesting idea, but also a pleasing progression of notes and sounds. 

The orchestration is full and dramatic, incorporating sax, shimmering cymbals and other percussion, guitar, and other sounds that emerge from the mix to carry the momentum, then let another voice do the same. The track unfolds in more than 7 minutes of undulating movement.

Unexpectations, the next track, launches unexpectedly (see how I did that) into a rhythmic percussion-driven jazz track. It's a real showcase for drummer/percussionist Fernando García and his virtuosic chops. He's truly all over the place.

But, just when you thought you knew where it was headed, the piece moves in a different direction. 

The band, and the album, cycles through several other genres. There's the rocky Darker Decision and Explode, where the guitar (Gabriel Vicéns) and Jonathan Suazo on alto sax take over centre stage. Pursuit Ongoing is a nice track of kinetic jazz, full of movements and changes. 

Crystalline is something of an exception, with a laidback groove and layers of melody and rhythm that build slowly. 

It's an album for lovers of polished contemporary jazz and jazz fusion.

Musician Names/Instruments: Jonathan Suazo: Alto Sax; Gabriel Vicéns: Guitar; Sergio González: Guitar; Emanuel Rivera: Piano and Keyboards; Fernando García: Drums and percussion; Joan Torres: Bass