Nestor Torres: Mi Alma Latina

Puerto Rico-born flutist Nestor Torres celebrates his Latin heritage on Mi Alma Latina (Shanachie), a collection of cover versions, most of which were composed by Latin artists. Some of Torres’ readings are straightforward, such as his version of Enrique Iglessias’ “Hero” and his rendition of the 1999 Santana hit “Smooth,” which, despite fine Spanish guitar work from Chieli Minucci, feels oddly stiff. It would have been interesting to hear the accomplished Torres step out a little and reimagine this well-known tune, as he does with Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” which he gives a dusky, slow-burning sway.

Torres infuses lively classics such as Tito Puente’s “Ran Kan Kan” and Willie Bobo’s “Spanish Grease” with plenty of festive energy, but he saved his most passionate performances for the end of the album. His flute shines over the gentle guitar- and string-accented bossa nova of the penultimate track. “Besame Mucho,” and he invests the hauntingly beautiful closer, “Alfonsina Y El Mar, with obvious feeling and deep sensitivity.