Trumpeter Chico Alvarez was one of the star soloists during the height of bandleader Stan Kenton's creativity and popularity, appearing on a pile of albums including the dense and fragile City of Glass. Indeed, Alvarez is on so many Kenton albums that there is even a tale told of an East German big-band jazz fan who stacked up all of this material and was thus able to boost himself over the Berlin wall, although he had to leave the sides behind. Born Alfred Alvarez in Canada, the trumpeter was raised in Los Angeles and had also mastered piano and violin by the time he was a young man. He worked with Kenton for a decade beginning in the early '40s, minus a few years spent in the service of Uncle Sam. Alvarez also kept busy during periods when Kenton had torn his group apart in search of new directions, the trumpeter teaming up for casual projects with artists such as saxophonist Charlie Barnet and vibraphonist Red Norvo.
In the '50s, Alvarez showed up on the occasional recording session by vocal artists such as vocalist Patti Page and Nat King Cole. He also began running a Los Angeles piano store in 1952, an enterprise that took up more and more of his time. Alvarez freelanced with various Latin bands as both a trumpeter and songwriter, and eventually retired in Las Vegas. He is not related to the Cuban-American disc jockey, vocalist, and bandleader of the same name who released the 1992 album Montuneando.