The following was provided by the Standing Room Only concert series:
The Standing Room Only season finale features the only big band in the world that perfectly recreates the unforgettable music of Juan Garcia Esquivel. A hit on the main stage at the most recent Montreal Jazz Festival, Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica comes to Wakefield for their only Boston area performance of the year on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30. Tickets are available at sroconcerts.org and in Wakefield at Parker Florist and Silver Clay Gifts.
Brian O’Neill’s 22-piece big band performs meticulous arrangements of Esquivel tunes often described as space-age bachelor pad music. On top of the standard winds, brass and percussion of a big band, Mr. Ho adds four singers, steel guitar, extensive mallet and hand percussion, accordion, Hammond B-3 organ and bass flute. The sound is instantly recognizable from the combination of exotic Latin percussion, wordless vocals (often with the sound “za-za” and “pow”), virtuoso piano runs, frequent glissandi and abrupt dynamic shifts.
Frank Alkyer of Downbeat effused about the “incredible arrangements, musicianship and artistic direction” of Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica. “I’m sure the only thing better than hearing the record would be seeing this group live.”
For the 2012-13 SRO season “Celebrating America: Sounds That Inspired a Nation”, concerts have looked back 200 years with the season premiere, “Stars and Stripes”, built around the War of 1812, “A Civil War Christmas”, remembering our nation’s most challenging time 150 years ago, and “Rags to Riches” on Valentine’s Day, showcasing the music of Italian and Irish Immigrants, ragtime and the Broadway career of New England native George M. Cohan, all wildly popular 100 years ago.
Musing about his pursuit of the perfect representation of musical America 50 years ago, producer Peter Stickel had this to say: “In considering how to characterize the early 60’s, we originally wanted to present pop songs from the period, but how do you pick just one? For some, the quintessential rock style was British, from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones or maybe Petula Clark? For others it was the California surf sound. Folk was big, as was the folk rock fusion that led to the Mamas and the Papas and Simon and Garfunkel. You had blues, blues rock, roots rock, Soul, Funk, R&B, Motown, country, the pop sounds of Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” or the Archie’s bubblegum tune, “Sugar, Sugar”. Too many choices, therefore guaranteed to disappoint most everyone.
“Then it hit me – we can showcase a sound that was everywhere at the time – in movies, TV theme songs, elevators - the orchestral hybrid that bridged the gap between 1950’s easy listening and 60’s psychedelic music: the big band sound of Juan Garcia Esquivel, as fun to hear as its irreverent campiness is the perfect absurd reaction to a time where America was both confronting a multitude of lurking and difficult realities and also setting its sights on the moon. Ah, heck, it’s just going to be a lot of fun and tickets are going fast!”
As always, tickets to The Big Band Sound of Esquivel ($30, $25 for seniors 65+ and students) are available online at www.sroconcerts.org, at two ticket outlets in Wakefield: Parker Florist at 9 Lincoln Street and Silver Clay at 39 Albion Street, and by mail to SRO/Wakefield UU Church, PO Box 529, Wakefield, MA 01880. Information is online or available by calling 339.203.9366.