Thursday, January 20, 2011

Esquivel | HiLobrow

It's Esquivel's birthday:
Drop a needle onto any one of JUAN GARCÍA ESQUIVEL’s (1918-2002) legendary mid-twentieth-century recordings and listen in awe as the sound ping-pongs from speaker to speaker: pianos plink and glide, strings zigzag into space, and an unseen chorus croons soothing syllables, then bursts into an emphatic “pow!” Esquivel was a piano prodigy who had his own radio show in his native Mexico at the age of 12; he later honed his idiosyncratic chops backing up a comedian who might ask him to provide “music for a Frenchman walking in Russia.” That he succeeded wildly was underscored when his arrangement of “Sentimental Journey” was performed by an office suite in a delightfully surreal segment of an Ernie Kovacs special in 1961 [video below]. Though known today as the king of “space-age bachelor pad music,” Variety once noted that “Esquivel is to pop music what Aaron Copland is to serious music, or what John Coltrane is to jazz.”