Bobby Torres Ensemble: Breakin’ Away – Celebrating Al Jarreau
UP Jazz Octet Celebrates Kenny Wheeler & Norma Winstone
February 19 | 7:30 pm- $20
University of Portland’s Buckley Center Auditorium
For this special Tribute to Al Jarreau, Bobby has put together a fantastic set of some of Al’s most memorable hits. This special event features vocalist Sean Holmes backed by Dan Gaynor on piano, Alex Milstedt on both keys and sax, Israel Annoh on drums, Carmelo Torres on drums and percussion, Al Criado on bass, Dashel Ruiz Perez on guitar and, of course, Bobby Torres on congas.
Bobby Torres and Al Jarreau formed the roots of their friendship in 1971, before Al’s career took off and after Bobby had completed the Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishman Tour of the United States. Bobby was making his way as a session musician touring and recording with the likes of Jessie Ed Davis, Paul Williams, Kenny Rodgers and Jackson Brown to name a few. Al was performing regularly at The Baked Potato (owned by Don Randi of the Wrecking Crew) and at Dante’s in L.A. Bobby hung out there with his friends. As if destined to meet, Bobby and Al hit it off both professionally and personally right from the beginning. Bobby hand carved, hand wove, re-wove and repaired many beaded shekeres (beaded gourds) for Al. In performance, Al became known for playing Bobby’s beautiful hand beaded shekeres. Over the next 8 years, they hung out, played together, listened to music, and started families – each growing in their own musical careers including US and World tours – Al with his band and Bobby with Tom Jones. Within a year of his ten-year tour with Tom Jones, Bobby moved his family to Portland. In 1991, Al and Bobby reconnected at the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. As with all great friendships, geography and time were unable to separate their bond. After the Festival, Bobby took Al to the Polo Lounge to hear Ron Steen’s Jam Session. They drank, laughed, talked and mourned their time apart. Vowing to reconnect, Bobby and Al would not actually see each other again until the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival in 2011. Like destined souls, Al and Bobby were once again reunited over a hand carved and beaded shekere that Bobby had made to commemorate their friendship of 41 years. Al was thrilled to have the new shekere. At the time, Al was recovering from a serious illness and had required support to walk and to stand – that is, until he saw Bobby. Miraculously, Al ran to greet Bobby. His manager and road crew stood agape. Al ordered chairs to be put on right on stage for Bobby and his wife Carole. It was the catbird seat. As he sang, Al played the shekere, stole comical glances and laughed pointing at Bobby from time to time on stage. After the performance, Bobby and Al stood together talking and laughing for close to an hour while time stopped and the world seemed to revolve around them. When they parted, Bobby sensed that it would be their last time together. He expressed that feeling in a song that he wrote for Al the very next day called “Ghosts of Destiny”. On February 12, 2017, Al Jarreau died of respiratory failure, at the age of 76, just two days after announcing his retirement. February 12th is also Bobby Torres birthday.
Bobby Torres is a musician and producer with a 40+ year professional history that spans the globe. Bobby developed his reputation while performing with Joe Cocker at Woodstock, touring with Joe Cocker Mad Dogs & Englishmen, and while performing, touring and recording with countless other music stars such as Al Jarreau, Jackson Browne, Beach Boys, the Captain & Tennille, and Etta James – to name a few.
He also performed and toured the globe for 10 years with Tom Jones. In 1994, Bobby started his own Latin Jazz Band called the Bobby Torres Ensemble which incorporated Portland’s best musicians and vocalists including Shoshanna Bean, Duffy Bishop, Nancy King, Rebecca Kilgore, Karla Harris, Alyssa Schwary, Margaret Linn, Julana Torres, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Bobby has been part of Portland Jazz festival for many years. He performed with Arturo O’Farrill. His Ensemble has opened for Tito Puente and Poncho Sanchez. And, the Ensemble has been host to such stars as Luis Conte, Orestes Vilato, Fausto Cuevas (percussionist for Stevie Wonder) and Alex Acuna. Because of his history, Bobby was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of fame and was presented with the Jazz Hero Award by the Jazz Journalists Association.