Esteban Alvarez “La Bikina”
Something happened to me the other day when I was listening to “La Bikina,” the new single from composer and Latin music maestro Esteban Alvarez that hasn’t happened to me this year. I got completely lost in the moment. About 80 seconds into the classical piano ballad, the mariachi band kicks in, and suddenly I was lost somewhere beyond the couch in my living room; I was somewhere completely free of any sort of cares or worries, lost in the glow of the warm sun that sits over the equator. I couldn’t help but fall into a trance as the song began to swerve to the left and right of my stereo speakers, subtly begging me to follow its brisk tempo leading me towards salvation. I was overcome with a sense of freedom and inexplicable relief.
That’s what great music does for us really. It grabs us from wherever we’re at physically and mentally and takes us to the frame of mind and picturesque setting illustrated for us by the songwriter. Esteban Alvarez has mastered this god given gift, and I’m enamored with his method of practice. Here we have someone who has been posturing himself to break through to the mainstream for a long time now, and you could argue that in many ways he’s achieved the goals that he initially set out to meet when he began his career. At the same time, universal fame has evaded him, and it’s a bit perplexing as to why. Everything that discerning fans of this style of music could want is present. Is it that his classically-influenced attack is too complex for this market? Are people just not getting it? I don’t think so.
What I think is that Esteban Alvarez has been biding his time amassing the skillset that he’s showing us on “La Bikina,” and it’s all rising to the surface now that the pop establishment is ready for a shift in power. The time has come for his music to reach the market that it’s always been tailored for but never been granted direct access to: mainstream pop. I know, it might be a little strange to imagine his new album Piano Meets Mariachi conquering the classical, avant-garde and pop categories, but that’s only because his discography is finally being made widely available (courtesy of the exposure for this new album).
There’s something really different about Esteban that I can’t completely define in this review, but I think anyone who has followed existential classical/Latin crossover music in the last five or six years will understand what I’m talking about when they listen to both Piano Meets Mariachi and “La Bikina.” The momentum that he’s inevitably going to continue to build as he tours and performs behind this impeccable piece of art will present him with a couple of options moving forward in his career. Whether or not he chooses to continue to experiment with this style or move in an entirely new direction, we can count on Esteban to continue to raise eyebrows with his rousing compositions.