Esteban Alvarez | ‘Tico Groove’

Written by | Across The Pond, CD Reviews, News, Reviews

World-class Steinway pianist Esteban Alvarez has written music for a variety of ensembles, orchestras, and chamber groups in his time– from the Latin Jazz Ensemble, the Caribe Club and the Escazu Folk-Music band to the Baylor Jazz Ensemble and many more. Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Esteban has studied under a number of jazz greats (including the likes of Chris Potter, Dave Brubeck, John Abercrombie and Jonathan Kreisberg – among others) going on to write songs for the National Peace Program of Costa Rica, and the Organization of Costa Rica & Nicaragua. These songs received special awards by Dr. Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Laureate and President of Costa Rica at that time. Esteban has travelled to Guatemala, Qatar, and Nepal to perform in national music festivals and speak about peace and education.

Esteban was first nominated as a “Steinway Artist” back in 2013. The Steinway Artist Roster is a list of the most accomplished and discriminating artists in the world. Some of the names in this list include Lang Lang, Diana Krall, Arthur Rubinstein, Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, and others of this calibre. As a Steinway Artist Esteban has performed solo concerts in China, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Central America, and the USA. Esteban has also appeared in private shows for the Ferrari club and Formula 1, featuring John Legend and other artists.

Esteban’s latest album “Tico Groove” features Ignacio Berroa (Dizzy Gillespie’s drummer) and Lynn Seaton (Count Basie’s bassist). The album seamlessly blends elements of traditional and Latin jazz, whilst also incorporating Costa Rican folk and world rhythms and phrasings, meeting in a place that sits somewhere between an almost nostalgic hark back to Esteban’s hometown, whilst also taking influence from its guest musicians who put their own distinctive mark on the album. “Tico Groove” is the sum of the many parts that make up both Esteban’s culture and musical identity, blending his jazz and world sensibilities with the sound of the many other artists and indeed cultures that he has come to work with and previously studied under.

Speaking on the forthcoming record, Esteban said “This album is my attempt to share the love for my culture and my identity as a “Tico” (Costa Rican) to other parts of the world. The concept of “Tico Groove” was to create a bridge between our most organic folklore, and some of the most influential elements of jazz and world-music under my original music arrangements. All this was possible through the monumental experience and knowledge of legendary drummer Ignacio Berroa (former drummer for Dizzy Gillespie), who not only captured the concept of this music but also gave to it an unmistakable Latin jazz flavour. In the same way, world renowned bassist Lynn Seaton “sealed” this project with the authentic jazz “old-school” sound. Indeed, nothing but a privilege to make music with these gentlemen.”

Esteban was also recently nominated “Good Will Ambassador” and guest Artist to the International Peace Foundation, based in Hong Kong. In 2016 Esteban co-founded Music Peace Project (MPP), a non-profit organization that brings local and international musicians together to assist in humanitarian relief efforts around the world by making and selling music. The organizations first project is called “Austin for Peace” and 100% of the album’s net sales will be given to UNHCR for Syrian refugees. Some of the musicians featured in this project are Ignacio Berroa, John Patitucci (world acclaimed bassist), Tamela Hedstrom (Costa Rican singer), and the Wesley Intergenerational Choir.

“Tico Groove” is as consummate as it is divergent in its style and unfolds in an almost musically autobiographical sense, creating a superlative summation of Esteban’s musical career to date. With various other projects lined up for 2017, “Tico Groove” provides the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with Esteban Alvarez signature style.

‘Tico Groove’ can be purchased at iTunes  or Amazon

Last modified: July 15, 2018