Fernando Huergo, a Latin Jazz/Chacarera Bass Master
By Myron Black
Fernando Huergo is an acclaimed pioneer in the Latin jazz realm. He is often on the bandstand with Marta Gomez, Guillermo Klein and his own band, Jazz Argentino. Fernando was born in northern Argentina, and moved to Boston in the early 90's, where he's lived since then, although he often does gigs in the New york area. What makes this bass player really interesting is the new wave of grooves he has introduced in the scene: An Argentine Chacarera and Tango sound played on the bass! This guy uses slap, sort of like Marcus Miller, but accenting the off-beats completely the opposite from Marcus. And most of all, Fernando has great sense of time, which is handy for any bass player. But in this music it is a must, and that's Fernando's engine and makes him groove like nobody.
In Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos big band he maybe at times the only reliable player who doesn't get lost in the form or beat. Or that what it sounds like to me. There are many more famous people in the band... Miguel Zenon, Bill McHenry, Chris Cheek and Jeff Ballard, but the backbone of that band is definitely in the bass! With Marta Gomez, who sings beautifully and writes Colombian folky tunes are lyrics about deep human subjects, Fernando is almost invisible, that's how well we blends in with his bandmates, especially Franco Pinna, who is the drummer version of Fernando, also from Argentina. This brings us a perfect move to Fernando's own band, Jazz Argentino, with Franco, tenorist Andrew Rathbun, pianist Mika Pohjola and Russian flutist Yulia Musyelyan, who has a great classical kind of sound, but improvises like a horn. This really grooving quintet did a killer record for Sunnyside Records last year under Fernando's name, called Provinciano". The title is, according to some folks I know from over there, about not being from the capital, Buenos Aires. In the capital they mostly play tango, but in Cordoba and the north where Fernando and Franco are from, they play this very exciting rhythm, Chacarera, which is based on a 6/8 pattern, and comes from Flamenco. This is very very exciting, people.
Fernando has in the past played with almost everybody, from Danilo Perez and Dave Weckl to Randy Brecker and Luciana Souza. He has a huge selected discography on many labels, but his leader albums are the ones to really check out: Provinciano (2008) on Sunnyside, Jazz Argentino and Live at the Regattabar (2002) on Fresh Sound, and Living These Times (1998) on Brownstone, which is now also out on Blue Music. Fernando is also a trusted bass professor at Berklee since many years back.
It's really exciting to know that there's a guy who's developing new jazz sounds and styles. I've personally heard a lot of funk, fusion and even straight-ahead jazz guys, and many are good and very professional and even really famous. Few, though, make any new music, but Fernando does. And this is what should be celebrated for real. Fernando is a true master, people!
Fernando will play in Massachusetts and Connecticut with his band in early December:
Dec 3 @ 8 PM: Vernissage, Brookline, MA
Dec 4 @ 8 PM: The Armenian Library, Watertown, MA
Dec 5 @ 8 PM: The Blue Lion Jazz Club, New London, CT