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Bassist And Composer Fernando Huergo’s Big Band Album “the Possibility Of Change” Breathes Courage And Bravery To A Society In Transition

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Electric bassist, composer, and bandleader Fernando Huergo is no stranger to the modern-day music scene, with 11 albums under his belt as a leader, and over 140 as a sideman. As one who artfully blends the grooves and melodic conception of Argentinean music with modern jazz, Fernando has played in ensembles of virtually every size, but as a leader, he had exclusively worked with small groups. The The Possibility of Change showcases Fernando’s artistry on a large canvas, as he transforms his comfort zone as a bandleader from quintet to big band.

Fernando Huergo is a musician of vast skill and eclectic influences. His ability to groove hard in American jazz styles and his command of Argentinean musical styles have made him a well-booked musician, both as a leader and sideman. Having played in a plethora of noteworthy large ensembles, such as Guillermo Klein and Los Guachos and The Mehmet Sanlikol Big Band amongst others, Fernando saw it as high time that he stepped into the world of leading a big band. Fernando, with his wealth of musical knowledge and imagination, aspired to bring forth a fresh take on the big band concept, utilizing Argentinean influences, modern harmony, and odd meters as a vehicle to do so. The end result of these aspirations is The Possibility of Change , an album that courageously transforms Fernando’s norm as a bandleader and sets the stage for subsequent steps of musical bravery in those whom this album touches.

As a musician, Fernando does not draw inspiration exclusively from musical sources, but sees literature, visual art, and films as equally powerful muses for his craft. The Possibility of Change is a direct result of this. “I was inspired by a wonderful talk given at the radio show “The Moth” by the Turkish writer Elif Shafak,” Fernando recalls. “I was driving back from a gig listening to the radio and she ended her story with the phrase “The Possibility of Change.” I was so inspired that I drove faster to get home sooner to compose the song.” To Fernando, The Possibility of Change does not merely describe the potential for something to transform, but emphasizes the courage required to make and undergo important changes. At this time in which the global community is undergoing unforeseen and unprepared transition, the power of acknowledging the strength required to persevere through change is not lost on Fernando. “This time of great uncertainty for all can be a chance for change. I hope that we can learn from this tragedy and move forward with more compassion and humility.” Fernando elaborates, “[I hope] we can recover some of the humility missing in our society and that we start taking care of our planet that desperately needs it.”

Musically, one of the factors that makes The Possibility of Change unique when compared to other big band albums is its intense focus on the rhythm section. With a miasma of music that emphasizes odd meters, modern harmonic concept, elements of the blues, and complex funk and Argentinean grooves, The Possibility of Change required a masterful rhythm section while also showcasing brilliant ensemble playing and virtuosic solos by the horns. According to Fernando, one of the factors that enabled this section to lock together so artfully was a regular quintet gig with a repertoire consisting of small group arrangements of the music on this album. By the time the big band recording session came around, this rhythm section was acutely aware of each other’s musical identities and the unique, subtle facets of each piece.

The Possibility of Change is an album whose inspirations for compositions are vast and varied. While the title track, as previously mentioned, was inspired by a phrase from a talk, there are other compositions with similarly extra musical concepts that inspired Fernando. Ascenso is a tale of hard-earned triumph, written about Fernando’s hometown soccer team, Talleres de Córdoba, whose efforts finally raised them to the first division after working, training, and competing for twelve years in the lower divisions. Field of Sky was written based on the folklore told around a historical event, in which a meteorite crashed into northern Argentina approximately five thousand years ago. Fernando elaborates, “The natives, with their natural poetry, called this area Campo de Cielo, or Field of Sky.” Fernando’s compositions were further influenced by another location, evidenced in his piece, New Delhi. This composition is both inspired by and pays homage to bustling Indian capital, which Fernando describes lovingly and succinctly as “exuberant.” Fernando cites multiple artists as being influential on the musical concept of this album, including Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk, Dave Holland, and the young Brazilian musician Antonio Loureiro.

When asked what he appreciates about the musicians who helped bring this album to life, Fernando remarks that he appreciates their dedication to the music, as this enabled him to work with a consistent core group of musicians throughout all the performances leading up to the album. Something he states as a strength of the band is its grand diversity. “It’s a cross-generational and international band with members who are 40 years apart,” Fernando says. “[They] come from the U.S., Ecuador, Japan, Turkey, Venezuela, Italy, Russia, and myself from Argentina. They are some of my favorite musicians anywhere.”

As Fernando steps out with courage and bravery to lead his music in a new direction with The Possibility of Change, he illustrates to listeners, spectators, and the wider world that change does not always have to fearful, but that transition—even with all its chaotic uncertainty—can be something that is able to resolve beautifully. The Possibility of Change sheds light on the wonders that a bold deviance from one’s norms and comfort zones can lead to something that is not merely different, but is irrefutably breathtaking to behold.

The Possibility of Change releases on NextLevel, an imprint of Outside in Music, on July 31st, 2020.

About Fernando Huergo

Fernando Huergo is a bassist, composer, and educator from Cordoba, Argentina, now based in Boston. He has recorded over 160 albums, including 11 as a leader and co leader. Fernando has toured and given clinics in North, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. An active performer on the jazz scene, he currently plays with Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos, Mehmet Sanlikol, Jason Yeager, El Eco, Yulia Musayelyan, Pablo Ablanedo Octet, Macuco Quintet, Maxim Lubarsky, Leo Blanco, Daniel Ian Smith and Jim Kelly. He has performed with the bands of Luciana Souza, Cesar Camargo Mariano Trio, Danilo Perez, Marta Gómez, Dave Valentín, Hendrick Meurkens, Dave Liebman, Dave Samuels, Joe Beck, and many others. Fernando Huergo has performed with his quintet at the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival, and Cordoba International Jazz Festival in Argentina, as well as at Alexanderplatz Jazz Club in Rome, Italy, and Sunside Jazz in Paris, France, The Regattabar in Cambridge, MA and Cornelia Street Cafe in NYC, among others. In 2010, he received a Grant from Chamber Music of America and the French American Cultural Exchange, which resulted in the recording of the album Suite in Blue and White in Paris, France. Fernando is a professor in the Bass Department at Berklee College of Music, since 1996, and an adjunct faculty at Tufts University since 2001, Northeastern University and at the Prep. School in NEC. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1992, and has also studied at New England Conservatory. He studied with Charlie Banacos, Jerry Bergonzi, Cecil McBee, George Russell, Whit Browne, Oscar Stagnaro and Bruce Gertz, among others.

About NextLevel

NEXTLEVEL is an imprint of Outside in Music, dedicated to early career and first-time bandleaders seeking to make an impact on the music. OUTSIDE IN MUSIC is a record label and media company that exists to serve musicians. We are a community that strives to lift its artists above the noise of the 21st-century music industry and make music that expresses the sounds of today's wide-ranging jazz and creative music scene.

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