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Album Review

The music of bassist, composer, and bandleader Alex Torres has always been anchored in the rhythms of the Caribbean, and in particular, the instrument of the claves. His Reyes Latinos (Latin Kings) are a solid attraction on the festival circuit and his exploration of the musics of these native cultures and their diasporas is relentless. While Torres comes out of the tradition and feeds it with his knowledge and relentless searching for new rhythms and harmonies, his notion is also to explore ways of granting the tradition space as a popular music rather than as a relic. Over two discs, Elementos does just that. Disc one is a series of merengue tunes reflecting something deeper than the dance; the tunes look toward merengue as modern instructional music, as shamanic music for the modern world. With a band that ranges from 15 to 19 musicians, Torres understands the intricacies and limitless nature of musical texture and dynamic. Whether it's the saucy merengue meets rhumba of "Sirenita," the burning, fire-driven horns on "Fuego de Pasion," or the charging rhythmic innovation on "La Gran Juma," los Reyes Latinos attack the same way — with humor and force. On the salsa disc, improvisation and tight charts by Kevin Hendrick provide the band with the necessary framework to create large-scale rambling dance tunes that are as much about instrumental prowess as they are about rhythm and its proliferation. Check "Black Mamba" or "Fiesta de Cueros" for examples. Perhaps the most delightful tune on disc two is a glorious tribute to Tito Puente on "Descarga en Sol Para Tito Puente," where a knotty, stop-on-a dime front line meets the rhythm collision of Cuban son and rhumba fury head on for a virtual orgy of sonic motion. Ultimately, Elementos is the most forward-thinking statement yet from Alex Torres y los Reyes Latinos.

Customer Reviews

Review from New Arts Magazine, Italy

A new name to me, I have had the honor to communicate with this great artist after performing in one of New York's numerous clubs. I was lucky to have come across these guys on the internet after being referred by a DJ friend. I sent Alex Torres an email and was amazed at his quick response. He's a humble person, a true musician who doesn't brag about his achievements. To my surprise (again !) he told me when the band was formed ( 1980 ) and I looked up the band's bio and saw all the major festivals and clubs that they have performed at throughout the years sharing the stage with notables Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Tito Nieves and Jimmy Bosch. He is a complete musician and with his incredible orchestra shell out a healthy dose of salsa,and plenty of merengue on this latest cd, Elementos. This is a double disc album, one dedicated to the African diety, the divine Yemaya , Goddess of the sea, and the other Chango, divine God of Fire. I invite you to listen to the beautiful "Descarga En Sol Para Tito Puente" dedicated to the Mambo King himself. Other favorites, "Fiesta De Cueros", "Nadie Coo Tu", "Sirenita", and "Fuego De Pasion." Job well done !! You must get this splendid cd !

ELEMENTOS, Alex Torres y Los Reyes Latinos
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