Hugo Heredia ‘Mananita Pampera’ LP (Jazz Room) 4/5

Paul Murphy’s first release on his Jazz Room Records label is a little known 1976 underground classic by Hugo Heredia. The ‘Mananita Pampera’ album was recorded in Germany and later released on the small French label, ‘Cote D’Azur’, which only ended up releasing a handful of albums during its short reign. The album was championed by Paul Murphy and was a firm favourite on the emerging London jazz dance circuit. It’s another one of those essential fusion rarities that has somehow slipped under the reissue radar until now.

Recorded in Germany with an international line up comprising of Swiss double bassist Peter Frei, Brazillian percussionist Ivanir Mandrake Do Nascimento, drummer Peter Schmidlin, pianist Horace Parlan and saxophonist Hugo Heredia, the album highlight is the unique style of the leader and his heavyweight fusion style. This is epitomised on ‘El Beto’, a serious uptempo Latin jazz jam highlighting the Argentine leader on flute, alongside pianist Horace Parlan, who provides a perfect repetitive left-hand groove and tempo for the leaders infectious sound. Hugo Heredia exchanges flute for the tenor saxophone towards the latter stage of this 8-minute piece and it’s here that a nod towards his fellow countryman Gato Barbieri seems apparent and a nice touch indeed, if that’s the case. There’s a particular free feel about the track as though not contained by the four walls of a studio or the rigidity of a rehearsed composition.

‘Mananita Pampera’ is a true Afro-Cuban masterpiece with a European touch and it’s interesting to hear the sound that arrives throughout the album. Recorded in Germany, released on a French label, with Swiss, Italian, American, Danish, Brazillian, Argentine and more, the album is a superb mix of jazz and Latin fusion with a good balance between the two styles.

‘Have You Met Miss…?’ is a welcome reprieve from the uptempo, with Hugo Heredia playing a chilled soprano saxophone set alongside the softer side of Horace Parlan’s playing with some tempered drumming support adding a slight lift to the groove although it’s really a perfect setting for both piano and soprano saxophone to thrive.

Throughout the album, there’s some great playing by all the musicians and on the uptempo gutsy ‘Al Bebbe Guia’, Hugo’s earthy tenor again airs a slight resemblance to Gato Barbieri with some powerful playing and memorable moments, whilst percussionist Mandrake and drummer Peter Schmidlin weave a dynamic momentum for Horace Parlan to follow. Before moving to Denmark in the early 1970s and later becoming a citizen of the country, Horace Parlan recorded some great albums back in the States, such as ‘Heading South’ and ‘Happy Frame Of Mind’ in his early relationship stages with Blue Note Records, as well as featuring on many great albums alongside names including Charlie Mingus, Roland Kirk, Dexter Gordon, Booker Ervin, Johnny Griffin, Archie Shepp and many more.

A welcome reissue of a little known album on a label that is sure to bring more great releases. Meanwhile, check out this live performance from Hugo Heredia on Bandcamp.

Mark Jones