Live Music: Jesse Herrera at Vitello’s

By Don Heckman

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again.  One of the really intriguing aspects of reviewing music is the occasional (and usually rare) opportunity to hear a talented new artist.  Which is exactly what happened Monday night at Vitello’s with the performance by 26 year old singer/songwriter/guitarist Jesse Herrera.

Jesse Herrera

Albuquerque-born, trained in mechanical engineering, Herrera nonetheless has managed to create an utterly unique performance style.  Using his voice in every imaginable fashion, playing acoustic guitar with the improvisational spontaneity of a jazz artist and the fire of flamenco, he is both an unusual and a compelling performer.

Herrera opened his Vitello’s set with a startling, a cappella version of “Autumn Leaves.”  More unusual material followed, much of it original: “Bringing You Back to My Reality,” “Swing and Sway,” “Alice in Wonderland” (as a samba), songs about love and vulnerability, Jobim’s “Insensitive,” and a climactic “My Favorite Things.” (with a flamenco touch).

It was all delivered with passionate intensity.  Herrera’s acoustic guitar technique was masterful.  Often relying on complex rhythmic ostinatos, simmering beneath vocals that sometimes drifted into offbeat scatting, whistling, high note head tones and – on occasion – simulating the sound of a trumpet.

By the time Herrera finished his far-ranging, mesmerizing collection of sounds, songs and rhythms, he had thoroughly established his credibility as a young talent with a potentially promising future.

* * * * * * * *

Photo by Faith Frenz. To see more photos by Faith Frenz click HERE.

Video courtesy of Jesse Herrera.

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