Esteban Alvarez is a Costa Rican-born piano virtuoso that currently lives in Austin, TX. He's been at this music thing since he was 9 years old, teaching himself how to play before taking lessons from Prof. Omar Arroyo. He went on to study music and physics (whoa dude's a scientist too!) at the University of Costa Rica.
His latest effort entitled "Piano Meets Mariachi" is out now and I gotta be honest, I don't know much about mariachi music at all. But how I'm approaching this review is this: I'm gonna let it play and let the music move me or not move me. That's it. It's what music is all about really. Besides, I love the way a piano sounds when it's played excellently. So that's a start, right?
Without further adieu, let's check out "Piano Meets Mariachi" by Esteban Alvarez.
Watch the music video for "Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras (Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman)" on YouTube here:
The album begins with a gorgeous tune called "Amor Eterno (Eternal Love)" Alvarez can really play the piano. But what grabs me is his ability to infuse such feeling into the melody of the song. Every stroke of the keys evokes a sensation. Just supremely talented. Lovely song as well. The next track is the first single off the record and it's a familiar Bryan Adams classic. "Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras" better known as "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" sounds just amazing in this setting. The mariachi theme is perfect for this tune and Alvarez' piano is again, sheer perfection. "Perfume de Gardenias" is another gorgeously played number. It doesn't seem to stand out as much as the prior tracks, but it's pleasant and likable. Track four is "La Bikina" and it's really a showcase of Alvarez' incredible piano playing. I mean, it's on full display here. It has tasteful horns to fill out the sound. Really good stuff. We move on to "Me Has Echado Al Olvido" next and it's a downtempo love song that just breathes with heartbreak. It's incredible how much emotional energy Alvarez plays with. With only a few lyrics, you understand exactly what each song is conveying through the music. "Adoro" is next and it's a lovely number that has some time changes that turn quite peppy about midway through, and then back into the signature slow tempo love song it began with. "Costumbres" is almost anthemic. I could see this being the theme song to an old romantic drama from the 70's. Not groundbreaking, but well-played and gorgeous nonetheless. The last track is "Sabes Una Cosa" and it picks up the mariachi theme again. It's not my favorite track on the album, but it's a solid ending to what was a really excellent listening experience.
This isn't the kind of music I usually am into. That said, this is an excellent display of musicianship and melody and it's really impossible not to enjoy it. If you usually take a hard pass on piano-based mariachi music, I think you'll still like this. If you're into this kinda music, it's gonna be about perfect. A Strong recommendation from me.