Quito, Pichincha, ECU

Inspired by and based on Ecuadorean traditional music, "Equatorial" is Alex Alvear's very personal tribute to the music, the people and the land of his native Ecuador. While establishing a deep connection with the music's essence, Alvear's original compositions and arrangements incorporate elements from Jazz, Tango, Classical music, Afro-Latin music and Rock to provide a delightful musical journey through Ecuador


Opening a Door to Ecuadorian Music:
Alex Alvear’s Equatorial Brings Home
One Step Closer

Getting kidnapped by the Ecuadorian secret police was the last “kick in the butt” for musician Alex Alvear. He left for the U.S. with $70 in his pocket and started a new journey far from home. The release of Equatorial, an album that was a breakthrough for modern Ecuadorian music, was Alvear'’s connection to his native roots. The Andean, indigenous, and Spanish roots show through in a gently arranged modern palette of sounds. The result is a sweet collection of tunes with beautiful vocals, a lilting groove, and timeless acoustic melodies.

Like many middle-class kids growing up in Quito, Ecuador (and thanks to a three hundred-year colonial legacy left by Spain and cultural alienation instigated by commercialism and American pop culture), Alvear hated everything Ecuadorian, he could name and recognize any rock band from the ’60’s through the ’80’s but could not hum one Ecuadorian song. He began playing rock ’n’ roll to later discover not only an array of Latin American musical styles but embracing Ecuadorian music without shame or prejudice. Fully adopting the rock rebel lifestyle, he lived off of an alley in a “hole in the wall” and used music to speak out against the government’s unjust practices. While still in Ecuador he co-founded the ground-breaking Promesas Temporales, a group that incorporated Rock and Jazz elements into traditional music, recording only 1,000 LPs at the time and later becoming an icon in the development of Ecuadorian music.

As he became exposed to jazz and fusion, he wanted to learn more, but there were few opportunities at home so he started saving money with the hope of studying abroad. In December of 1985, he was kidnapped in broad daylight by the secret police of then right-wing president León Febres Cordero. His captors erroneously thought he was linked to a growing guerilla group, but because of their imprudent daylight capture, public protest led to Alvear’s freedom by the end of the day. Less than 2 weeks later Alvear bought a one-way ticket to the US. Soon after, Alvear found himself enrolled at the Berklee School of Music and launched into a career in Afro-Latin funk, Latin jazz, and salsa music in the Boston area. He recently realized, however, that something was missing.

“"When I wrote a recent pasillo [an Ecuadorian song form], I said, ‘Hold it, I already have six pasillos and all these sanjuanitos and albazos… this could be an album!” “I also realized I had come full circle. All these years, I played Cuban music, but I’'m not Cuban. I played Brazilian music, but I'm not Brazilian. I played North American music, but I’m not really North American. I had been writing Ecuadorian songs for myself, as a way to remember. And now this is what I want to do. This finally makes sense with who I am. explains Alvear”

Anyone who has heard Andean music will hear familiar elements on Alvear’'s Equatorial, from pentatonic melodic motifs to Indigenous flutes like the dulcet bamboo quena and Ecuador’s unique brand of panpipes played by Kichwa master flutist Roberto Cachimuel, from the syncopated beats of the sanjuanito cadence to the rhythmic use of acoustic guitar. But the most immediate reaction to Alvear’'s 2-decade slow sonic brew is that of timelessness and melodic soulfulness. Just as Peru’s Susana Baca and Colombia’s Totó La Momposina researched and updated the roots music of their homelands to reach new audiences, Alvear delicately brings in elements like jazz harmonies, tango instrumentation, Brazilian sensibilities, funky bass lines, and pop melodic structure to build a bridge between old and new, sometimes even sounding Beatlesesque.

An early turning point in Alvear’s appreciation of Ecuador’s musical heritage occurred when he accompanied a filmmaker friend to the pueblo of Peguche in the northern province of Ecuador called Imbabura. “I brought my guitar and as soon as we stepped out of the van we were in the midst of a huge Indian celebration,” recalls Alvear. “It’s a weeklong solstice party they have every July with all this symbolism everywhere and, while it was officially the celebration of Saint John (San Juan, thus the name for sanjuanito), it had more to do with ancient beliefs than with Western religion. I had envisioned this little getaway, writing another pop ballad under a tree somewhere; I had no idea what I was getting myself into.”


"Equatorial" - Self-released
"Immigrant Blues" - Self-released
"MANGO" - Self-released

Set List

Set: 90 minutes
A musical journey through Ecuador

1- Taita Imbabura (Yumbo)
2- Peguche (Sanjuanito/Churay)
3- Pasillo Para Mi Padre (Pasillo)
4- Esta Historia no es de Risa (Bomba)
5- Gracias al destino (Pasillo)
6- Soñando con Quito (Pasillo)
7- Churay Para Los Yarina (Sanjuanito/Churay)
8- Diva (Pasillo)
9- Sanjuaneando (Sanjuanito/Churay)
10- Flor de Kikuyo (Albacito)
11- Tarde de Lluvia en Guápulo (Pasillo)
12- Testimonio (Bomba)
13- Hasta Siempre (Pasillo)
14- Andarelito (Andarele)
15- Ausencia (Pasillo)
16- De Donde Vengo (Albazo)