Joan Torres’s All Is Fused Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Grant-Funded Album ‘Embrace From

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Photo Credit: CreditL Andrew Westhoff

Their new album Embrace From is a seminal project for Joan Torres’s All Is Fused in a number of ways. Intended to be a 10th anniversary release celebrating this unconventional jazz fusion band’s dedication to each other and their craft, the group learned early on in the making of this jam album that they had been awarded a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. Now this passionate ensemble of pop, lounge and jazz fusion have even more to celebrate.

The accolade from SF Arts shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as in its now 13-year history, Joan Torres’s All Is Fused have won countless awards for their mélange of bass-heavy jazz, complex polyrhythms and funk stylings. That said, with one listen to Embrace From, it’s clear the band have poured even more of their hearts into this work.

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.

This description almost makes Embrace Form almost into a concept album, and certainly explains the title. It’s true that sometimes creativity thrives when given a little structure, and the fact that Joan Torres and his ensemble are exploring this idea comes through very much in the album.

Opening with an almost ambient song called “Cotati Reset,” another true-to-title piece, it sounds like the group are doing little more than tuning their instruments until some melodies and ensemble compositions come dripping out of the staff. This speaks to Torres’s lush, orchestral style when composing. Seemingly formless, this track bends into a gorgeous, nonsensical symphony that is fluid and danceable at the same time.

“Cotati Reset” sets the tone for the rest of the album, as the group explore grooving together whilst embracing many forms of “form,” from lounge jazz to hard rock to modern pop. The notes and melodies fill in these structures like filigree around the listener and give a new meaning to what jazz fusion really is.

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.

A twist, indeed, and a re-defining of multiple genres, is what fans can expect from Embrace Form. By embracing the form of these other styles which fusion normally seeks to subvert, Torres and company effectively subvert the expectations of jazz fusion itself.

Independent Music Promotions Inc.