Fernando Otero – Vital

Fernando Otero – Vital

There’s always something to be said for musicians that are able to take what’s already old and turn it into something conventional. Whether it’s taking the oldest pop ditty and sampling it on the newest hit hip-hop single, or taking old jazz standards and relishing their goods onto a new soul gem – there’s always a huge pay-off if done right. On a similar level, taking something like classical music and offering any kind of twist is most definitely a bright surprise. If the menacing, spectral music of “Reforma Mental” is enough proof, Fernando Otero is putting in his good measure in creating something fresh with classical music.

Otero’s newest album on World Village is a concept album – to say the least – on the many wonders of the night. What Vital aims to accomplish is the portrayal of the sounds of the dark and the various amounts of emotion, feeling and sometimes, misfortune, that seems to follow the hours of darkness. Like an insomniac drifting around at night in search of some kind of comfort or support, Otero works over these compositions like a tired laborer. All while focusing on the jazz and classical roots that continue to inspire and influence him, Otero makes like a Latin-infused Chopin: melodic and worldly.

Something like “Noche Iluminida” is almost the opposite of what you’d expect for something named ‘illuminated night.’ Dark and filled with meditative minor chords and progressions, Otero fills the space with a loose accordion-style string section and ominously draped piano lines. In creating such image-filled portraits with the sole use of instruments, the strength lies in Otero’s forward-thinking compositions. And in such fitting manners, he solemnly sequences the aforementioned song into “Fin De Revision”’s slow lamentation. A reflective ending, it’s pensive and somber as the album’s closing notes.

And opening with a dashing amount of mystery with “Nocturno”’s dancing piano, Otero does an exemplary job in showcasing mood. Maybe it’s because of his heritage as an Argentinean and being born to an actor and opera singer, or perhaps it’s simply because he’s been involved with music since age ten but Otero is certainly capable of breathtaking moments. Whether he’s gently accompanying a lonely violin or whether he’s taking to intrepid linear arpeggios, there is always a great deal of craftsmanship and musicianship.

Finding the positive reinforcement in all, Otero polishes his best Gershwin with “Danza Preludio 22”; fusing driven and propulsive piano rolls, he capers them with dainty closings that grab the ends and tie them into a tight knot. Vital is that kind of energy – fluid and white-hot – in a fusion of classical and jazz styles. Otero makes every effort to help us understand his motions and in the meantime, makes the night sound like a great new exploration.

“Nocturno” by Fernando Otero