Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fernando Huergo - Hashtag (2016)

Source & Label: Zoho

While the tango is the heartbeat of Argentina’s bustling capital city, Buenos Aires, 600 miles to the north in Santiago del Estero the characteristic rhythm is chacarera, a 6/8 folkloric rural counterpoint to the cosmopolitan tango. Between the two cultural centers lies Cordoba, hometown of bassist-composer Fernando Huergo. A longtime resident of Boston and currently a Professor at Berklee College of Music, Huergo grew up listening to Argentine tango and folklore, along with American jazz. He represents all of those seemingly disparate elements from his own musical makeup on Hashtag.

“It’s kind of a combination of who I am,” he says of his seventh recording as a leader and debut for ZOHO Music. “I’m from Argentina, I love the music from there, is in my blood. I love Astor Piazzolla and I love folklore music, but I also love Duke, Monk, Mingus and Benny Golson and all the jazz greats. So I tried to combine those things and create something hopefully interesting.”

What Huergo has created on Hashtag is a collection of powerfully compelling tunes that incorporate folkloric traditions, courtesy of Franco Pinna’s deep understanding of Argentinean musical styles and Yulia Musayelyan’s stellar flute work, along with modernist flourishes from Leo Genovese’s Fender Rhodes electric piano, Rick DiMuzio’s urgent blowing on tenor sax and the leader’s impeccable electric bass lines.

“I’m very lucky to be playing with these guys for a while now,” says Huergo of his bandmates. “They’re such heavy players. Yulia, who is from Moscow, is amazing. I love her sound. It’s the color of the folkloric music that was missing before when I just had a tenor in the band. Yulia is very deep into Latin music and she has a great talent for improvising melodies. Rick is just one of my favorite tenor players anywhere, beautiful sound and lines, a true Boston legend. Leo’s contribution is wonderful not only for his own harmonic world that he brings to the music but for his knowledge of the traditions and his fresh approach to them.” Huergo prominently features Musayelyan and DiMuzio on the intricate unison and harmony lines that characterize his writing throughout Hashtag, like on the surging title, which opens the collection with a bang.

“I love the sound of those two instruments together and those guys have such a blend. I really enjoy the intonation and the warm sound that they get.” Pinna’s crisp, rapid-fire, drum ‘n’ bass-inspired work on the kit fuels this bristling opener while Genovese supplies a crackling Rhodes solo. Huergo also exhibits tremendous facility, uncanny articulation and remarkable lyricism in his solo on this energized number. He cites Jaco Pastorius as a major influence on his approach to the electric bass guitar. “He’s like Trane, Bird, or Herbie,” says Fernando. “If you’re a modern player, you can’t avoid the guy. I think there are very few musicians who had an impact like Jaco did on the bass. He changed the whole spectrum.”

A folkloric aspect comes into play strongly on the driving Trunca which is underscored by Pinna’s infectious chacarera groove. “Franco is from Tucuman in the north of Argentina, an area very rich in folkloric traditions,” explains Huergo. “He has mastered all those rhythms and adapted them to the drum set in a very unique and personal way.” This dynamic offering also showcases Musayelyan’s brilliant flute playing and has DiMuzio stretching heroically on a robust tenor solo.

The beautiful ballad Cerca has Pinna switching to brushes and fellow Argentine Genovese playing gentle piano. “Cerca means ‘close,’ and it’s dedicated to my kids,” explains the composer. DiMuzio delivers a dusky tenor solo and Musayelyan follows with a luminous flute solo. Genovese’s delicate touch and sparse approach on his piano solo here is simply sublime.  Read more...

01. Hashtag
02. Trunca Beat
03. Cerca
04. Evidence
05. Troesma
06. Falling
07. Infant Eyes
08. Weather
09. Afternoon at the Gallery
10. Afro Blue
11. Astor
12. U.M.M.G.

RICK DiMUZIO tenor sax
FERNANDO HUERGO electric bass
LEO GENOVESE piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano