Juan García Esquivel (January 20, 1918 – January 3, 2002) often simply known as Esquivel!, was a Mexican band leader, pianist, and composer for television and films. He is recognized today as one of the foremost exponents of a sophisticated style of largely instrumental music that combines elements of lounge music and jazz with Latin flavors. Esquivel is sometimes called "The King of Space Age Pop" and "The Busby Berkley of Cocktail Music." Esquivel is considered one of the foremost exponents of a style of late 1950s-early 1960s quirky instrumental pop that became known (in retrospect) as "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music".
He was born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, and his family moved to Mexico City in 1928 where he studied at the UNAM.
Esquivel is considered the king of a style of late 1950s-early 1960s quirky instrumental pop known today as Lounge music. Esquivel's musical style was highly idiosyncratic, and although elements sound like his contemporaries, many stylistic traits distinguished his music and made it instantly recognizable, including exotic percussion, wordless vocals, virtuoso piano runs, and exaggerated dynamic shifts. He used many jazz-like elements; however, other than his piano solos, there is no improvisation, and the works are tightly, meticulously arranged by Esquivel himself, who considered himself a perfectionist as a composer, performer, and recording artist.
His orchestration tended toward the very lush, employing novel instrumental combinations, such as Chinese bells, mariachi bands, whistling, and numerous percussion instrument, which he blended with an orchestra, a mixed chorus, and his own heavily-ornamented piano style. The chorus was often called upon to sing only nonsense syllables, most famously "zu-zu" and "pow!" A survey of Esquivel's recordings reveals a fondness for glissandi, sometimes on a half-valved trumpet, sometimes on a kettle drum, but most frequently on pitched percussion instruments and slide guitars.
Esquivel's use of stereo recording was legendary, occasionally featuring two bands recording simultaneously in separate studios, such as on his album Latin-Esque (1962). The song "Mucha Muchacha" makes particularly mind-bending use of the separation, with the chorus and brass rapidly alternating stereo sides.
He arranged many traditional Mexican songs like "Bésame Mucho", "La Bamba", "El Manisero" (Cuban/Mexican) and "La Bikina"; also Brazilian songs like "Aquarela do Brasil" (also known simply as "Brazil"), "Surfboard" and "Agua de Beber", and composed spicy lounge-like novelties such as "Mini Skirt", "Yeyo", "Latin-Esque", "Mucha Muchacha" and "Whatchamacallit". He was commissioned to compose the music of a Mexican children's TV show Odisea Burbujas.
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