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Nestor Torres: This Side of Paradise

With an unabashed sense of romance and a nod to traditional Cuban rhythmic styles and arrangements, flutist Nestor Torres’ This Side of Paradise (Shanachie 5076; 57:45) is playful and beguiling-an expertly prepared, summery tonic. Starting with the stately, strutting “Cafe Cubano,” Torres celebrates his musical roots, warmly piping above an old-style Latin arrangement, complete with string accents and walking percussion. A range of influence sweeps through the album, from the meringue-derived “Tambora,” which finds Torres in raw, brisk play, doubling baritone sax; to the impish romantic feel of “Doesn’t Really Matter,” demonstrating sweetness along the lines of vintage Burt Bacharach pop. Best of all may be the big traditional arrangement of “No Te Enamores (Don’t Fall in Love),” wherein Torres sings capably in a clear, wistful tenor, swathed in intoxicating layers of trombone, piano and brisk, percolating percussion. Though some tracks devolve into the glossy sheen of the smooth/adult contemporary genre (“Caribbean Romance,” for example), Torres’ exhilarating flute work consistently lifts the spirit.

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