Cosa Rica
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Cosa Rica

Band Latin Jazz


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"A Noteworthy Performance"

At least he was when Bristol Township's Crystal Torres recently released a string of melodic bursts of song that matched the soulful pronunciations of an alto saxophone in the East Room of the White House.

Sitting with his wife, Laura, the president tapped his foot to the smooth driving tempo bouncing from Torres and the rest of a six-piece jazz band.

"We performed literally in front of the president and his wife. They were smiling a lot and really enjoying themselves. Whenever I looked over at them, they would smile back and acknowledge me," the Harry S Truman High School graduate recalled last week.

Torres, a 21-year-old college student studying jazz, sang on June 22 as part of the White House's observance of Black Music Month 2004.

The National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Masters program brought several of the genre's most celebrated musicians to play at the White House. And the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and veteran jazz musician Billy Taylor invited Torres' group, Jazz and the New Generation II.

Torres said she has suffered from stage fright before, but singing came easy at the White House. She said the room was filled with a vibe of strong encouragement, whether it was the president and his wife smiling at her or the famous jazz musicians and aficionados listening with such passion.

Torres said she didn't really think about the weight of the event until she arrived. Cameras flashed as she stepped onto a red carpet to make her way inside the White House. In the Blue Room, she met the president and first lady.

"He was very friendly," Torres said. "I said, 'I heard you speak fluent Spanish,' and he said, "Si, pero tengo que practicar [yes, but I have to practice.]' "

Before any jazz bands played, the president spoke about black music and its genres, including jazz, blues, gospel and rock 'n roll.

"The music could only have come from the unique experience of African-Americans, yet it speaks to every human heart," the president was quoted as saying.

Looking back on the experience, Torres mentioned the importance of preserving jazz for future generations.

"Unlike other music, jazz is all about improvisation," she said. "There aren't too many art forms out there with no set of rules. Each time you play it, it's supposed to be different.

"It's good just to know that there's that kind of freedom out there. Young people aren't used to thinking that way - thinking outside the box. It needs to exist." - Courier Times

"University Jazz Student Sings at the White House"

A William Paterson jazz studies student performed for President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush at an event to celebrate Black Music Month at the White House in June 2004.

Crystal Torres, a jazz trumpet player, vocalist, and jazz studies major, performed with renowned jazz musician Billy Taylor’s education outreach program, Jazz and the New Generation. She was on of six young jazz talents who were selected by Taylor to play in his band.

As part of the concert, the multitalented Torres used vocalese (scatting a melody in union with the horn player) to perform a song composed by Taylor called conversion, an instrumental, for the President and his guests.

“It was unreal and energizing,” says Torres of the experience. “I wasn’t nervous until I was on stage. I’ve never felt that excited before. Everyone, including the President, was listening intently and I could see they were enjoying the music.”

The event was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts as a showcase for black music and jazz.

“This music could only have come from the unique experience of African Americans,” said President Bush. “It speaks to every human heart. Black music in America began with spiritual songs that bore witness to the cruelty of bondage and the strength of faith.
From the roots, it grew into a variety of style – jazz and gospel, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. All these forms capture a part of the American spirit.”

And that is Torres’ goal – to “sing and play everything- jazz Latin music, rhythm and blues, and gospel,” she says.

Torres earned a bachelor’s degree in music in January. During her final year on campus, she built on a stellar campus music experience that incorporated her many musical interests. She has performed at the Mellon Jazz Festival, the NAACP Jazz Festival, Camden’s “Jazz on the Waterfront” series, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the University’s own Jazz Room Series. She’s also a member of famed trumpet player Clark Terry’s big band, Terry’s Young Titans of Jazz, who performed at the Berne Jazz Festival in Berne Switzerland, and Manhattan’s historic Birdland jazz club. As part of the group called Ellas y Amigos, she performed in Bolivia in September.

Now that she has graduated, Torres plans to focus on her solo musical career started and writing songs to record on her debut CD. A devotee of both Latin music and jazz, she is trying to find a way to blend the two genres together.
- WP Magazine

"Clark Terry"

"Crystal has the "swingability" and her talent deserves to be showcased." - Legendary Jazz Trumpeter & Composer

"Ricky Gonzalez"

"Ms. Torres demonstrates musical ablity and maturity beyond her years. She is a bright and promising you artist." - Musician/Arranger/Producer

"Young Latina is one of the best Trumpeters & Jazz Vocalist"

"At age twenty-one, the young Puerto Rican does not let anyone or anything destroy her passion for jazz & salsa. In her short career she has distinguished herself as one of the best jazz interpreters." - Al Dia

"Lucky Thompson"

"To hear Ms. Torres play & sing is totally refreshing, like a cool glass of water on a hot summer's day" - Drummer/Natalie's Lounge Booking Agent


2004- Ricky Gonzalez "Oasis"
2005- Brenda K. Starr "Atrevete A Olvidarme"
2005- Clark Terry and the Young Titan of Jazz "Live at Marians"


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Cosa Rica" is a Salsa and Latin Jazz group that will keep your heart in the tropics and your feet on the dance floor. Dedicated to celebrating the many challenges and triumphs of the Latino experience in America, "Cosa Rica," which literally translates as "precious matter" symbolizes the customs, ancestry and joyous spirit that define Latino sabor.

Founded in 2004, "Cosa Rica" blends the energy of traditional salsa with fiery jazz improvisation and distinctively modern arrangements that satisfy dancers and music lovers alike. The group's original material consists of styles such as son montuno, guajira, mambo, danzon, bomba, and chachacha that are guaranteed to lure any listener to the dance floor.

"Cosa Rica's" leader, Crystal Torres brings a flesh perspective to a male dominated Latino music industry. Having studied with accomplished artists such as Raul Agraz, Bobby McFerrin, Orlando Fiol, Clark Terry, and Ricky Conzalez, Crystal's diverse skills as a trumpet player, vocalist and composer/arranger make her a unique musical messenger that will surely break barriers for the Latino community.

Surrounding Crystal is a group of musicians equally as talented and accomplished in their own right. Each member of the group deeply understands the transcending powers of music first hand, having traveled to perform in countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, Switzerland, and India.

With their vibrant sound reminiscent of the tropics, "Cosa Rica" has audiences around the world dancing and discovering a beautifully rich Latino Culture.