"Hailing from Puerto Rico, bassist and composer Joan Torres is on the forefront of progressive jazz."
–Morena Duwe, The Huffington Post
From a young age, Joan Torres was drawn to music. As a little boy he had both a small guitar and keyboard around the house with which he spent a lot of time making "interesting" sounds. However, it was not until he was 10 years old that he became aware of the possibility that he could learn to play an instrument in order to play with a group. He chose the bass. He finally got his first bass the day he turned 11 and his life was changed forever.
He began studying the instrument with a private instructor then, shortly after, on his own. He formed a Rock band with a couple of friends from school when he was in 8th grade. This band essentially covered songs to perform in talent shows and school parties.
In the year 2003, a Berklee College alumnus and music industry veteran named Orlando Collado took over as director of his school's music program. Torres joined Collado's new choir shortly after. The modern, seasoned and honest approach of Collado's led to him becoming a mentor as well as friend for Torres. With renewed interest in music and with a desire to eventually compose music, Torres decided to enroll in the after-school Stevan Micheo Music Academy. There Torres met his drummer counterpart who has joined him in most of his endeavors throughout the years, Fernando Garcia. During his time at Micheo Music, he acquired the core for most of his musical knowledge today. He studied the electric bass, reading and performing in Jazz under bassist Joel Marrero. He learned the basics of Jazz harmony and theory under guitarist Antonio Caraballo. Caraballo became another mentor and big influence in finally pushing Torres to begin actively exploring composition.
In 2004, Torres auditioned for the Berklee in Puerto Rico workshops for the first time. He was among the chosen to take part in the workshops. These workshops opened the door to a lot of musical knowledge, sharing opportunities, and mentorship. It was during this time he met another one of his mentors, the four time GRAMMY-award winning bassist and educator, Oscar Stagnaro.
The following year he once again attended the Berklee in Puerto Rico program. This time around he met many musicians, including some who would be responsible for getting him playing his first Jazz gigs. Additionally, he attended the Berklee Summer Performance Program in Boston later that summer. There he studied with many world-renowned musicians, most notably his bass instructor, Matthew Garrison, considered one of the most technically gifted jazz musicians of his generation. Torres also met vibraphonist and composer Victor Mendoza who was directing a "Salsa Ensemble" he asked Torres to join. In this ensemble he met Gabriel Lugo and Marcos Lopez both talented percussionists from Puerto Rico with whom he kept in touch after they all went back home. Torres was awarded with a scholarship to attend Berklee College as a full-time student at the end of the summer program.
Back home he was driven to grow his musical awareness. He was lucky enough to be invited to join many different projects which allowed him to gain experience in a wider set of genres than most people are exposed to. He joined a Puerto Rican Plena orchestra named "Plena Juventud" with fellow musician Gabriel Lugo. He also joined the "Indaka Jazz Quartet" where he met guitarist Gabriel Vicens, with whom he has shared the stage multiple times. They have been friends ever since. Lastly, he joined a new Reggae group who had been looking for a bassist. That group eventually became the local indie group "Raices Rusticas".
Torres was lucky enough to learn from a diverse number of experiences. The ensemble he was a part of during the Berklee in Puerto Rico workshops was chosen to play at the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest on June 4th, 2006. He met local bass legend Tony Batista who became a friend, teacher, and a big influence on developing his skills. It was with Batista that Torres began to study the upright bass. Later, Raices Rusticas opened for Grammy-winning Puerto Rican rock band Black Guayaba at the Arena Pier Ten September 9, 2006. This was the first show where Raices Rusticas performed original music. Not to mention that through many gigs, shows, and jam sessions he got a chance to play with many people such as Mario Castro, Jeremy de Jesus, Enrique Trinidad, Sergio Gonzalez, Gerson Orjuela.
After he graduated high school and moved to the town of Mayaguez to study engineering, he joined the University's Choir "Coral Universitaria". After one semester there, the director asked him to move to the university's more exclusive chamber choir "Corium Canticus" in which he stayed for the next 4 years. During his time there, the choir was chosen to take part in a competition in Argentina in 2008. The score of their performance there earned them a gold medal.
In May 2007 he attended the Berklee in Puerto Rico workshops for the last time where he was awarded another scholarship to attend the college and was again part of the ensemble chosen to play at the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest on June 3rd.
In Summer 2009 Raices Rusticas decided to focus their efforts on their original material. That year they hit major milestones. They started recording new original songs and releasing them as singles. For one of these singles, "Free Taste", they got the chance to film a music video. Raices Rusticas were also chosen as one of the 13 Reggae bands which would represent Puerto Rico's Reggae movement in the first of Sembrando Semillas compilation albums.
In 2010, they had the chance to play throughout the island of Puerto Rico in the Reggae Road Trip, Sembrando Semillas's Summer tour. Their single in the Sembrando Semillas album, "Suerte", was very well received by the public. Thanks to that they earned many new fans and wider exposition. So much so that their song was featured in the Rip Curl Pro Search 2010 radio promos. The event was held in Isabela, Puerto Rico which made it easier for them to earn an invitation to perform on the afternoon of October 30th.
After the success of the Sembrando Semillas movement, Torres was able to launch the website www.CulturaJazz.com, dedicated to promoting the Jazz scene in Puerto Rico. The project grew enough so that in 2011 they were recognized as press in local events including the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest. However, the community began to dwindle and on April 26, 2014 Culturajazz closed down after 4 years of service.
All Is Fused
In Summer 2011, long-time friend, guitarist Gabriel Vicens and Torres himself started their own project, a Modern Jazz Quintet playing original music. This project eventually became two separate projects; one of them being the Gabriel Vicens Quintet, in which Joan Torres took part for its earliest incarnation.
After his positive experience with the Gabriel Vicens Quintet, Torres decided to revisit some of the compositions he had made over the years. New ideas had come along. He began nourishing those ideas until he managed to get a repertoire of original music together. Once that part was done he recruited a new group of people to perform these Modern Jazz Fusion tunes. It can be said that these tunes synthesize a number of his musical experiences and influences over the years. These experiences all genuinely becoming a part of him, led Torres to abandon the more traditional naming of Jazz ensembles and instead go for a band name, All Is Fused. All Is Fused performed for the first time at the legendary nightspot, Nuyorican Cafe in Old San Juan, on December 21st, 2011. Torres got everybody together to record their first album on January 10 and 11, 2012 at Playbach Studio. The album features Sergio Gonzalez, David Ojeda, Fernando Garcia, Jonathan Suazo and Gabriel Vicens. It was released May 21, 2012.
Before was received well by the critics which earned new opportunities for both Torres and the ensemble. During the first half of 2013, Torres performed with many well-known local artists such as singer-songwriters Fana and Rique Colon. He along with drummer Fernando Garcia offered drum and bass clinics at Stevan Micheo Music. In February, his group performed some of the music from the album Before in a Jazz forum for the community of the Puerto Rico Music Conservatory. In March 2013, Joan Torres's All Is Fused and their critically-acclaimed debut album received nominations in two categories for the 12th Annual Independent Music Awards. During November 2013, they went on tour through New Orleans, Louisiana. Once they returned home they started working on their second album.
Torres started working on a new concept for the second All Is Fused album. The music is very different from the first one, having a darker mood and more intense tone. However, the music was written by the same person, with similar influences, so it can be said that this is a new chapter on the same musical adventure. The new album, The Beginning, was recorded on February 24 and 25, 2014 at Playbach Studio. It mainly features the same ensemble: Sergio Gonzalez and Gabriel Vicens on Guitars, Fernando Garcia on Drums, Jonathan Suazo on Alto Sax, with new additions of Emanuel Rivera on Piano and Gerson Orjuela on Drums.
On April 27, 2014 the group performed a set featuring music from this album for Heineken's Ventana al JazzFest in Condado, Puerto Rico. The ensemble launched an indiegogo campaign to help fund this album which was successfully funded on May 2, 2014. The Beginning was released August 21, 2014.
During 2015 The Beginning received numerous positive reviews and was featured in publications such as The Huffington Post. Additionally, the album received a nomination in the 14th Annual Independent Music Awards (the group's third IMA nomination). On February 24, 2016, The Independent Music Awards named The Beginning the people's choice in the Fusion Album category.
Of the Musical
After moving to San Francisco, California and sharing the stage with names such as Sandor Moss, Eduardo Corzo, Julius Melendez, and Calvin Keys, Torres started planning for the third All Is Fused album. During the month of June 2016, All Is Fused spent their time preparing for the recording of this album. They debuted the music of this new album on June 24 at The Center in San Francisco, California. They recorded this new album at the historic and influential Different Fur Studios in San Francisco between June 27 and 29. Grammy winner Dave Darlington mixed and mastered the album. Of the Musical was released November 21, 2016.