Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica - The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel
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Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica
The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel
Tiki

Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica
Third River Rangoon
Tiki (www.orchestrotica.com)

Third-stream postmodern exotica - or call it what you will - Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, whether in quartet form (Third River Rangoon) or 23-piece big-band formation (The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel), leaves other retro ensembles in the fairy stardust. Where fantasy ends and reality begins, or the other way around, Mr. Ho (aka Brian O’Neill, piano, vibraphone, percussion), Geni Skendo (bass flute, C-flute), Jason Davis (acoustic bass) and Noriko Terada (marimba, vibes, percussion) put the sounds of jazz, pop and global groove through the audio blender, with an eccentric, musically refined, disorienting nod to (popular western ideas of) Latin America, the South Pacific, Asia, the Balkans, Russia and what used to be called “the Orient.”

Esquivel’s lost big-band arrangements spring from Ernesto Lecuona (“Andalucia”) to Cole Porter (“Night and Day”), from Alberto Dominguez and Leonard Whitcup (“Frenesi”) to Harry Warren and Al Dubin (“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”). These are renditions conceived in the space-age soirees of Skypad Apartments, outtakes from a George and Jane Jetson soundtrack, Spacely’s Space Sprockets for the asteroid-bound audio deranged.

Built around Ho’s vibraphone, the quartet offers mostly O’Neill originals, along with select chestnuts: swing-era pianist Milt Raskin’s plaintive “Maika,” Cal Tjader’s “Colorado Waltz,” and out of the blue, Tchaikovsky’s “Arab Dance,” from The Nutcracker Suite. For O’Neill, the draw of exotica is its impossible escapist gesture, anything but the narcissistic posturing that characterizes so many efforts in the genre. All that is missing here are Mr. Ho remakes of Chet Baker’s elegiac “Let’s Get Lost” and Bill Evans’s “Turn Out the Stars.” But as life is short, so art is long - the Orchestrotica is bound to strike again. Meanwhile, cruise over to Mr. Ho’s Orbit City web site, tune in, beam up and give a listen. - Michael Stone

CD available from the ensemble: www.orchestrotica.com

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