Music Reviews
Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica

Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica

The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel

Exotica For Modern Living

It’s 1963 and you want to impress a swinging London chick with your brand new Hi-Fidelity amplifier. Maybe you’re really well off, it’s even in “Stereo.” How do you let her know you spend a few more shekels than the other guys? And how do you let your male friends know you have extremely good taste? You pop on the Esquivel and crank it to “7.” Esquivel hailed from Mexico, and created the soundtrack of the era with lush tropical sounding remixes of jazzy standards accented with ultra low bass, soaring bird chirps, and separation so good the right and left tracks were recorded on separate days.

Mr. E had his ups and down, and while his sound is trendy hip these days, his scores and arrangement were lost in a tragic storage unit foreclosure. The dedicated folks at Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica (OK, a guy named Brian O’Neill) set out to play Equivel’s material live, and they claim to have listened over and over to tracks until they caught the arrangements in “Finale.” According to the notes they play up in the Boston area, but until you can get a cheap ticket this traditional CD will have to hold you. There are 12 cuts here, all sonic masterpieces. They range from a wacky not-authorized-by-Duke-Ellington “Take the A Train” to “Let’s Dance” with its smooth jazz lines and staccato piano notes. The Hispanic world makes its contribution with “AndalucÃa” and “Frenesi” and there’s a surf-based “Mini Skirt” complete with a wolf whistle and the comment “Groo-vy!” The musicianship is everything Esquivel could want: I compared these tracks to some Esquivel I’ve had laying around in the dusty basement of my hard drive, I can’t tell Mr. Ho from the orginal. Mr. Ho has done something marvelous and it’s clear he needs to start making his own arrangements. The world needs more cool sounds like this. I vote for a lounge remake of Les Misérables as an opener.

Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica:

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