"The Sights and Sounds of Esquivel"
Juan Garcia Esquivel
Bar None, 2005
record from Mexican band-leader Juan Garcia Esquivel is a
rare piece of lounge music archeology. It was originally released in 1974
as a promotional album for the Margarita restaurant in Chicago titled "An
Evening at La Margarita with Esquivel! and His Sound." The liner
notes, written by Yvonne DeBourbon-Rodriguez, singer and
one of many of Esquivel's ex-wives, tells of how they were
booked to play a six-month gig at the Chicago restaurant. They had a limited
budget, so they played with a stripped down combo consisting mostly of
area musicians. As DeBourbon-Rodriguez recounts, some of
the guys were hired or not hired based on if they could fit in the expensive
outfits Esquivel brought with him. This album was meant to
recreate the live show experience.
By 1974, the space-age
bachelor pad music Esquivel excelled in had all but been
forgotten. "Lounge" meant tacky and the Great American Songbook had been
replaced with mellowed-out versions of Top 40 tunes. The great arrangers
and composers of the 1950's and early 60's were either doing movie and
television scoring or they were doing pick-up work for old lounge singers
still trying to make a go of it.
To be honest, this album
is tough to listen to for all but the most dedicated Esquivel fans. There
are a few flashes of the old Esquivel at the beginning of the disc. He
was able to modify his arrangements for the small combo without losing
all of the playful magic that he was known for. He was even to keep in
his trademark Zoo-Zoo-Zoo's. But by the middle of the album things go downhill,
especially with a horrendous version of "Delta Dawn." Although this was
a album recorded live in the studio without overdubs, the studio engineers
added canned applause at the end of just about every track.
None Records need to release this album? Well, yes and no.
They were the ones who put out many of the Esquivel compilations
of the 1990's. They, more than anyone, understand how important he was
to hi-fi music. Bar None really helped cement Esquivel's
place as the "King of Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music" as well as help sustain
the lounge revival of a decade ago. "The Sights and Sounds of Esquivel!"
is interesting as a cultural artifact--nice to have around, but not necessarily
needed to be put on your hi-fi more than once.
Buy this album from
Other Esquivel albums available
Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music
More of Other Worlds, Other Sounds
Music from a Sparkling Planet