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Esquivel - Exploring New Sounds in Stereo
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RCA Victor LSP-1978

My Blue Heaven
Bella Mora
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Lazy Bones
Spellbound

All of Me
Whatchamacallit
La Ronde
Number One Love
The 3rd Man Theme

 

The exciting, adventurous spirit that marked Esquivel's orchestral
album, OTHER WORLDS OTHER SOUNDS (LSP-1753), and the
dazzling piano virtuosity he displayed in FOUR CORNERS OF THE
WORLD (LSP-1749) gave us, at least, some indication of what to
expect once his arranging skills were combined with his versatility
as a performer. This mating has been effected with highly
impressive results in his new release, which finds the Mexican maestro's continuing
search for brave new sonic worlds distinguished by his almost uncanny ability to
use original and imaginative instrumentation.

My Blue Heaven employs not one but two arrangements, with the second
superimposed over portions of the first in order to create a truly full-bodied,
all-embracing effect. Taken at a lively clip, the familiar Walter Donaldson melody
spotlights the leader at a set of small, chromatically-tuned bongo drums performed in
much the same manner as a piano keyboard.

On Bella Mora, Esquivel presents an exotic oriental-tinged beguine that takes
advantage of musical coloring provided by such rarities as Greek finger cymbals,
ankle bells (which look like a cluster of metal grapes), Chinese chromatic bells, a
Chinese bell tree, a gong, and a Brazilian tambourine called a pandero, in addition to
a full complement of Latin-American percussions. No brass on this one, with the
reeds used to carry the melody that is picked up, in turn, by the vocal group. Also
featured are the piquant sounds of Esquivel's German harpsichord.

With Esquivel returning to the more conventional type piano. Boulevard of Broken
Dreams
becomes a joyful cha-cha that allows the Latin-American instruments -
bongo drums, conga drums, gourds, timbales, et al. - to cut loose in their own
irresistible fashion.

The loping, arm-stretching gait of Lazy Bones is effectively established right from
the start by the unusual coupling of a jew's-harp and a buzzimba, a one-of-its-kind
instrument that is struck with mallets and sounds like a low-register, resonant
clarinet. No brass is around to jar the mood, which also benefits from the presence
of the delicate harpsichord.

One of the best-known film scores was composed by Miklos Rozsa for Spellbound,
and its main theme is initially played here (and then repeated) by an extremely
affecting alto flute solo backed by Esquivel's cascading piano. These tender,
haunting passages, however, are contrasted with a rather harrowing climax built
up by the pulsating brass, vocal chorus and percussions. Present, too, is the eerily
appropriate theremin, an electronic instrument that was also used on the movie
sound track.

All of Me
is treated to a fast Latin beat, with the muted brass conveying the melody.
Of special merit are Esquivel's improvisings at the piano, which reveal him to have a
very sure and solid jazz touch.

An original piece is the catchy (though indecisively titled) Whatchamacallit,
performed in a gaily lilting Mexican rhythm. It serves to introduce the ondioline, a
French pedal-piano that is similar in sound to a high-pitched organ, and is used for
some delightful interjections between the blasts of the nine-man brass section.

With the oompah-pah-pah calliope effect contributed by the organ, the orchestra
takes off on a swirling merry-go-round to the tune of Oscar Straus' La Ronde,
once sung in the French film of the same name. Flutes, xylophone, harpsichord,
glockenspiel are all heard, with an especially fitting accordion sound furnished by
the saxophones and clariaets.

Rock-and-roll shows up in My Number One Love, a song that gets off to a lively
start with the jew's-harp and buzzimba combination, which is later brought back
to accompany the vocal group. Prominently displayed are such assorted rhythm
instruments as temple blocks, cow bells, maracas, bongo drums and, of course,
an electric guitar.

The 3rd Man Theme,
with Esquivel again at the harpsichord, gets an attractively
swinging interpretation, notable for its effective use of the brass section. With a
second arrangement superimposed over the first, the trumpets and trombones
blare out in a richness and directionality that utilize fully the values of
stereophonic sound.

STANLEY GREEN
Mr. Green is a contributing editor to HiFi Review


Copyright 1959, Radio Corporation of America













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