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Fernando Huergo: Provinciano

Glenn Astarita By

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Without reading the press kit or liners prior to a first listen, something unique is readily apparent about Argentinean bassist/composer/educator Fernando Huergo's modernistic amalgamation of modern jazz and tango. An instructor at Tufts University and Assistant Professor in the Bass Department at Berklee College of Music, Huergo surpasses the traditional forms of ethnocentric Latin song structures within the jazz realm.

In the album notes, Huergo iterates the accelerated transfer of information due to the Internet, where musicians have the ability to communicate and share their work in expeditious fashion. On Provinciano, Huergo ups the ante a bit while enveloping a multipronged stance of South American roots music, all embedded in the progressive jazz schema. With the quintet, Huergo exercises a get-up-and-go mode of operations with tight arrangements, seamlessly interweaving tango and other indigenous Latin elements into a cutting-edge, progressive jazz jamboree.

Huergo's manifesto is synthesized upon brisk jazz arrangements, enamored by Yulia Musayelyan's wistful flute passages and supple unison lines with saxophonist Andrew Rathbun. The program is juxtaposed by the ensemble's penchant for executing little big band type arrangements via impassioned choruses and asymmetrical shadings of the Latin vibe. And they swing hard, while navigating through rolling hills and sharp turns on the suite-like composition titled "El Chupacabras." Yet part of the beauty is that no particular genre dominates, although in many cases, that alone could signify a semblance of disorder. On the contrary, the leader of this date helps carve out a distinct group-centric musical persona.

Huergo's limber bass lines and soft touch provide a pliant yet sturdy foundation throughout. He's the traffic director and steers the band through radiating jazz movements amid an abundance of odd-metered time signatures and contrasting hues. Rathbun and pianist Mika Pohjola embark on fiery soloing jaunts that often blossom into a charming Tango or Brazilian theme. Nonetheless, the quintet's resilience and purveyance of realism is an underlying factor during the entire process.

Huergo offers brief narratives of each song in the album listings, setting the stage for the mind's eye by equating the basis for each piece with its musical connotations and origins. Golden ears aren't required to hear—and then feel—the inherent beauty communicated during each interlude or movement, as Huergo triumphantly morphs the best of several musical worlds into this dazzling 2008 masterwork.


Personnel: Yulia Musyelyan: Andrew Rathbun: saxophone; Mika Pohjola: piano; Fernando Huergo: bass; Franco Pinna: drums.

Title: Provinciano | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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