Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fuernado Huergo's Swinging Hashtag

Fernando Huergo
Zoho Music

Currently a professor at Berklee School of Music, Argentine-born bassist Fernando Huergo brings the tango as well as the folkloric music (including the chacerera 6/8 folkloric rhythm) of his native land together with the American Jazz he also grew up listening to his seventh recording and label debut for Zoho. As quoted in Bill Milkowski's liner notes, "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.”

With his electric bass and group of Yulia Musayelyan on flute, Rick DiMuzio on tenor sax, Leo Genovese on piano and Fender Rhodes and Franco Pinna on drums, Huergo provides 8 originals and four interpretations from Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Mongo Santamaria and Billy Strayhorn. "Hashtag" is a diverse program of swinging grooves and moods wonderfully played with the leader's bass anchoring the music. The Argentinian rhythms provide accents underpinning the performances here starting with the opening title track with Genovese's Fender Rhodes and Pinna's touch and rhythms provide a base for Huergo's scintillating solo followed by DiMuzio's robust tenor. Throughout, the blending of sax and Musayelyan's flute lends a delightful flavor. Genovese (who I first was exposed to as part of Jack DeJohnette's Quartet with Joe Lovano and Esperanza Spalding), also dazzles here.

The twelve song program mixes the leader's wonderful originals with interpretations of some classic and less familiar compositions including a fresh rendition of Monk's "Evidence" which opens as a duet with Pinna before the horns state the theme with clipped phrasing followed by some stunning piano from Genovese. Huergo's ballad "Cerca (To Fran and Clara)" opens with statement of the theme from the horns with a lovely flute solo from Musayelyan and Pinna is employing brushes. "Troesma" has more lovely voicings, as well as incorporating tango rhythms from the horns on the head with the flute sounding more probing and insistent here (and there is nice counterpoint exchanges on the main theme between her and DuMuzio here) while Genovese dazzles with his technique and imagination. Wayne Shorter's lovely "Infant Eyes" showcases the leader's virtuosity on the electric bass (Jaco Pastorius is obviously a major influence on him) as well as his arranging skills, while again the quintet freshly interprets Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue."

The album includes tributes to Weather Report ("Weather") and Astor Piazzolla ("Astor") and closes with a choice performance of Billy Strayhorn's "U.M.M.G. (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)." It is easy to recommend "Hashtag" with its mix of strong and varied compositions, scintillating arrangements, strong solos and marvelous ensemble playing.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the July-August Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 367). Here is a video of Fernando Huergo performing.