Fernando Huergo

Jazz Argentino

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For his sophomore release, bassist Fernando Huergo enlists Chris Cheek on soprano and tenor saxes, Bruce Barth on piano, Jeff Ballard on drums, and Franco Pinna on percussion. The steady personnel makes for a more focused session, a sign of growth since Huergo's 1998 debut, Living These Times. Huergo seeks to incorporate a full range of Argentinean idioms -- not just the tango sounds associated with urban areas, but also the folkloric, rural styles of the north. Again, he plays mainly electric bass, switching to acoustic for "Adán Buensayres" and "Che" (both of which involve tricky tempo and mood transitions), as well as the somewhat ominous and relatively brief "Chicos De Malvinas." (It's interesting that the acoustic bass tracks are, for the most part, also the tracks on which Cheek plays tenor rather than soprano.) Compositionally, Huergo is at his best on "Truco," a snaky tango line with a dramatic B section, paving the way for fiery piano-soprano sax exchanges and a drum-percussion breakdown. There's a mournful quality to much of the music, although the improvisational skills of these players brighten even the darkest moments. A fine piece of work from one of South America's most significant jazz exports.

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