Easy Listening, or “sonido ambiental” as its known in spanish, can be a dubious genre to dive into but one that can render some interesting musical nuggets as well (that is after you get past all piles of Ray Coniff and Ferrate and Teicher). Latin America also produced its own variety of “easy” maestros among them probably the most famous being Juan Torres and his Organo Melodico series.
Torres, originally from the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, trained classically before producing his first recording while residing in Italy and soon returned to Mexico; joining other contemporaries including Ernesto Hill Olvera and Sergio Perez and beginning a productive career on Mexico’s Musart label. Producing an estimated 79 Lps among them his internationally famous “Organo Melodico” series, his weapons of choice were his Hammond B6 and the legendary X66. While it appears he remained mainly an interpreter of popular genres and songs of the day, some of his versions manage to incorporate some interesting arrangements and they stand out given he was at times accompanied by a rhythm and bras section along with an occasional uncredited vocal that added some more character to otherwise another exercise in the land of boring organ music.
Check out Torres’ version of “El Baile del Sillon”, orginally a son cubano gets a quasi soulful reading with some female choruses together with Torres’ organ that swells in and out of the strong upright bass groove along with a nice injection of brass near the end of the song. Then on “El Tren de Bucaramanga” Torres tranforms his organ into a chugging locomotive with some help from the rhythm section helps produce this vibrant little track.
The 70’s ballad “Mamy Blue” ,interpretted by a number of acts including the Pop Tops among others, here gets a moody funky workout with some a nice female vocal on the chorus and again Torres’ organ that swells and snakes its way around the groove.
Lastly, here’s little track from Brazil’s Lafayette that features some nice fuzzed out guitar stabs and a sweet percussive break mid track. Enjoy the tunes. EB