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Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica: The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel

Juan Esquivel was born in Mexico in 1928 and eventually became known as the "king of space-age pop". His blending of glistening pop and Latin grooves with a big band sound was highly regarded and was thought to be ahead of its time. His work in the studio with stereophonic techniques was also considered to be cutting edge.

Mr. Ho, otherwise known as Juan Garcia, is a Boston-based pianist and percussionist who first became interested in Esquivel in 2004 and in 2008 formed a massive 21 piece orchestra to fulfill his desire to delve into the arrangements of the famous Mexican musician, arranger and composer.

The orchestra do a great job in giving these 11 tunes new life. This is as hip and groovy as it gets and just might make big band music popular again. The background vocals of Kathleen Doran, Jennifer O'Neill, Paul Pampinella and Yolanda Scott are outstanding and bring an old school '50s charm to the record. The horn section adds an abundance of flavours and manages to hit all the right notes making this music both vibrant and colourful. Saxophone and trombone are used to great effect with some wonderfully melodic playing and are complimented with deeper bass blasts courtesy of Chris Beaudry on bass trombone.

Some of my favourites include "Take the A Train" with its excellent woodwinds and sultry percussion and "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams", a very upbeat tune with a Latin flair and stellar piano work. The arrangement is a little more spacious allowing for all the instruments to be heard with the utmost of clarity. You should also check out the rippling bass line in the fast moving "Mini Skirt" and for a trip down memory lane it does not get any better than the whistling melody in "Sentimental Journey" where the song title says it all.

The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel is one of the better jazz releases of 2010 and is one I highly recommend.

Track Listing:
1. Andalucia
2. Night and Day
3. Take the A Train
4. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams
5. Music Makers
6. Frenesi
7. Sentimental Journey
8. Mini Skirt
9. Let's Dance
10. Dancing in the Dark
11. Street Scene

Added: January 16th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1694
Language: english

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