The Sights and Sounds of Esquivel!

Esquivel! Bar None.


Juan Garcia Esquivel was the happiest discovery of the silly, short-lived, ’90s lounge craze. A long-lost master of what became known as “space-age bachelor-pad music,” the Mexican bandleader specialized in giddy, sweetly weird instrumentals that tweaked the conventions of bland, easy-listening pop. On Sights and Sounds, recorded in 1974 as a promotional tool for a Chicago restaurant, Esquivel and his peppy crew could be a cocktail combo from a parallel dimension. As a pair of female vocalists soar and swoop nonsensically—“Pow! Pow! Pow!” and “Zoo-zah” are typical interjections—percussionists make a merry clatter and Esquivel showers the offbeat arrangements with rippling piano notes. Radiating optimism, he embodies a heartfelt love of sound that transcends the campy trappings; even the moody dance number “La Mantilla” is joyous. And if the hyperactive take on “Rhapsody in Blue” doesn’t raise a smile, you’re beyond help.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2018 demands.

  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.