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"TOrcH - Charmed"

From the other end of the music spectrum comes Torch and the CD "Charmed." Led by vocalist/songwriter Seela Misra, Torch — guitarist/songwriter Chris Vestre and drummer Jon Greene and a cadre of talented collaborators — has put together a collection of warm, organic songs that are part classic pop, part jazz, part eclectic.

Torch will celebrate the release of "Charmed" Friday night at Luna. Showtime is 9 p.m.

With an inspired mixture of standards ("Caravan," "Alone Together," "Love Me or Leave Me") and originals by Misra, Vestre and Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Torch adds to the book while keeping it fresh, alive and jumping for a new generation. Some of the tracks were recorded in a studio, some were recorded live at the Elephant Room, a cool jazz club in downtown Austin.

Misra has a sultry voice that's perfectly suited for delivering the torch songs from which the band takes its name. But she also has a singing songwriter's approach to making music, which prevents her from simply delivering them by rote. Vestre and Greene are fellow travelers, which is why they work together so well.

"Charmed" is a beautiful piece of work. The song selection; the live/studio mixture; guests including Newcomb, bassists Chris Maresh and Mike Porter, keyboard player Evan Jacobs, saxophonist David Chenu and trumpeter Ephraim Owens; and the confident vocal work of Misra make for a compelling disc that transcends boundaries, genres and generations. - San Antonio Express News - night lights

"Charmed by Torch"


- Genre: 'Indie' - Release Date: '2007'

Our Rating:
The aptly named Torch ( embrace tired ears with lovely torch songs that are both new and old. The group steps beyond paint-by-numbers covers, investing each track with palpable passion, invigorating chemistry, and spellbinding tightness.

Of all the forms of pop music, jazz is probably the hardest to play, and certainly the most difficult to effectively create real emotions with. The problem is that so many wanna-be jazz vocalists have turned the goldest standards into slices of cheese, robbing them of the melancholic flavours they once had. However, thankfully the same cannot be said for Torch. The lush, blue-velvet vocals of Seela Misra create a mood and atmosphere of their own. She's almost lost in her own world, especially on "Just Say the Word" and "Alone Together," wherein her plaintive singing is caught in the shadows of blissful romance.

The other musicians on this record - guitarist Chris Vestre, drummer Jon Greene, bassists Chris Maresh and Mike Porter, pianist Evan Jacobs, saxophone player David Chenu, and trumpet player Ephraim Owens - produce a classy backdrop that can be restrained when needed or light themselves on fire if the material ("Is It Enough?", Duke Ellington's "Caravan") calls for it.

To their credit, it's hard to tell the difference between the classics and their original compositions. That's the best compliment I can give.
author: Adam Harrington
- Whisperin & Hollerin (UK)

"Torch "Charmed""

Written by Kyrby Raine

Indeed, we are Charmed ( by this delightful mixture of jazz standards and original compositions. So smooth is the interaction between singer Seela Misra and her bandmates that you nearly don’t notice the passing of decades between one arrangement to another. Honestly, there is no drop off in quality between Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington’s scorcher “Caravan” and the pleasant lounge sexiness of “The Colder Months,” written by Misra herself.

Having been raised by parents who played a substantial amount of jazz in the house, the intoxicating magic brewed by its finest musicians is something that has been deeply locked into my psyche. When a single part fails, the whole building collapses; however, when everybody is caught in a groove, there is nothing more exciting. Misra’s group knows whenever to add light and shade to each curve of her voice, either playing off the sassiness of “My Baby Cares for Me” or the sultry crooning of “Just Say the Word.”

Each member gets their own chance to shine from the throbbing bass lines of Chris Maresh and Mike Porter on “The Colder Months” and “Is It Enough?” to David Chenu’s lusty sax on “Alone Together” to Jon Greene’s thunderous drums on “Caravan.” This is an exquisite wine-soaked affair that’ll chill your muscles without any hangover the next morning. - Shotgun

"Listening Post - Live"

Torch is a four-piece group dedicated to jazz vocal classics performed with sleek retro cool. Rather than just re-create the past, though, they inject a fresh sexiness into their music. Even amid the recent vocal jazz boom, they have their own unique take on the genre that relies on earnest analog values and which is wonderfully captured on two CDs to date. Torch will play a handful of dates throughout Japan starting next week.

Central to their sound is the distinctive phrasing and unswerving hipness of vocalist Seela. She succeeds -- where many recent vocalists have faltered -- in melding her own style with those from the past. Seela came from Canada to the vibrant music scene in Austin, Texas, where a diversity of past musical styles continues to thrive amid new musical attitudes. Once there, she sang with several bands, released her own CD and eventually got together with a like-minded trio. Chris Vestre's hollow-body electric guitar and the nimble bass and drum rhythms fit her voice with casual perfection.

Their two releases, "Before the Night Is Over" and "Sounds for Staying Home," showcase classic tunes though their originals sound just like standards themselves. Special to these recordings is the warm, tube-amp sound and the crisp interplay of the group. Their supple swing and pared-down arrangements completely refurbish tunes like "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Bye Bye Blackbird." The band polishes it all up with West Coast jazz, traditional swing and the occasional modal touch here and there. That, and the deep playful purr of Seela's voice, make this group truly special. - The Japan Times

"Torch - Before the Night is Over"

"Light/morning is good," Seela Misra sings on the mesmerizing "Silent Town," but her lush, well-worn voice, always tantalizingly on the cusp of cracking, is made more for the hours between midnight and dawn, even more so when teamed with the deft jazz strokes of guitarist Chris Vestre. Gutsy move, following songs by Cole Porter and the Gershwins with seven Misra/Vestre originals, but the new songs keep the mood alive, setting up the album's three-song highlight which starts when Misra wraps herself around the classic "I Fall In Love Too Easily" like a jilted lover around a bottle of wine, followed by "Springtime," a head-bobbing ditty from Seela that rides the bus to bossa nova and then into the drums-only accompaniment of "You Came a Long Way From St. Louis."

Seela and producer Brian Beattie have forged quite a musical partnership in recent years, as the singer flaunts her vulnerability and the producer works to keep in intact.
— Michael Corcoran - Austin American Statesman - XLent

"Torch - Before the Night is Over"

"Before the Night is Over, is a 12 track collection of jazz/pop/vocal beauties - professionally recorded live to 2-track over a three day period in Austin, Texas - quite a feat - apparently enticingly easy for TOrch. The methodology of the record takes the listener immediately into the red nylon-wrapped candles in a lit narrow and smoky bar - it's intimate, and near perfect. The first track, Cole Porter's "get out of town", introduces the deep moving vocal Torchful throat of Seela. The timbre of her voice is intoxicating - and she is supported with precision and flavor by guitarist, Chris Vestre, whose smooth unassuming tone is a perfect contrast to the unavoidable landscape of Seela's phrasings. Rounding out the rhythm section are Jon Greene on drums and Chris Maresh on bass - and the impression is of a 30-year relationship of entrenched casual every night players. In "Before the Night is Over", Vestre provides a tutorial in jazz melodic and chord modulating guitar, mp3'd here is a clip. The bare unaffected production is evident in the metallic and organic tone of the ride cymbal in "High Maintenance" - as scat is the cat of the day. Our favorite track is the sweet as honey, "Sweet Honey Tree" - listen. We are enamored with TOrch - and there will be no surprise to their impending internationals success - perfect. -

"In Your Ear - Kevin Wood"

On the flip side of the jazz coin from the complex progressive fusion of the Pat Metheny Group is the smooth retro simplicity of Torch, an Austin, Texas-based trio whose stock in trade is standards and reasonable facsimiles thereof.

Showcasing the potent voice of Seela Misra, Torch relies on Jon Greene's minimalist drums and Chris Vestre's sparse, melodic guitar for instrumental muscle. Guest bassist Chris Maresh rounds out the group.

With eight of the 12 tracks penned by the band, calling Torch a standards band may seem unfair, but their originals would not seem out of place on a Rosemary Clooney or Tony Bennett album circa 1957. Yet nothing here sounds forced, nostalgic or ironic.

Misra's coy vocals may stray perilously near cutesy at times, but there is a lioness behind the Shirley Temple pose--her rendition of Gershwin's "Nice Work If You Can Get It" takes a backseat to no one, and while composition credits are shared among the band, hers seem to be the dominant voice on such new standards as the post-last call "Nowhere Else to Be."

Stir up a pitcher of martinis, dim the lights and curl up with that special someone. As the title of the band's previous album says, these are Sound for Staying Home - The Daily Yomiuri


Charmed - May, 2007
Before the Night is Over - 2005
Sounds for Staying Home - 2003



Inspired by: Anita O'Day, Kenny Burell, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, Carmen McCrae, Valerie Fowler, Christian McBride, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Eric Dolphy, Wings, Yes, The Replacements, Carl Allen, Sherpa, Jonathan Safran Foer, Max Roach...

Fueled by: sandwiches, Kirin beer, friendship, swimming, rockin' out,Tokyo, Texas, Buffalo Records, tape recorders from the olden days, mistakes that sound cool by accident, vidoe golf and bowling, telepathy, old cars...

Frightened by: large vibrato, mayo, Auto-tune, the alphabet, sweet/fruity drinks, headset microphones, video cameras, the sight of our own blood...