Guillermo Klein & Los Guachos


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Guillermo Klein has, through a handful of CDs, incorporated minimalism, deeply hued piano chord shadings, progressive big-band charts, and folk rhythms from his native Argentina. He continues on this path with his group Los Guachos (not spelled "gauchos," as in the South American pampas cowboys), an exceptional 11-piece group that is as skilled and dedicated to this music as is the leader. Klein is heard singing songs more on this effort, and incorporates 20th century composers in the mix. Indications are that although this is progressive jazz stylistically, Klein's influences and taste goes well beyond bop, standard ballads, or American blues, and he has attained a signature sound that is recognizable from the opening track. Klein is also always good for at least two epic tracks per effort, and here "Muila" sports an iridescent melody played in 6/8 and then reversed, fueled by the flute of Miguel Zenón, high-end horns, and a lithe valve trombone solo from Diego Urcola. "Luz de Liz (Filtros)" is in mixed meters with crying horns and a probing piano -- a slow and deliberate ride on the mystery train for sure, with unpredictable tempo and drum accents from the always able Jeff Ballard. Urcola is back on his familiar trumpet with fellow brass man Taylor Haskins in a somber mood for "Memes," but they step up the pace via Ballard, who spots up and downplays rhythms so expertly. Electric guitarist Ben Monder is very present for the secretive intro on "Memes," the body of "Luz de Liz," and underneath the horns and piano throughout. He is certainly forming an original voice on his instrument apart from his peer group. Klein interprets the slow and liturgical Olivier Messiaen religious peace song Louange á l'Éternité de Jesus, and adds delicate keyboard to the horn lines from György Ligeti's Hungarian Rock on the Argentine folk song "Vaca." Of the vocal tracks, there is a basic line on the love ballad "Amor Profundo" contrasted in meters of seven and five, the folkish "Va Roman" where Klein's signature repeating piano chords are evident, and a group vocal during the melancholy "Yeso." Holdovers from previous editions of Los Guachos -- like saxophonist Chris Cheek, percussionist Richard Nant, electric bassist Fernando Huergo, Zenón, Urcola, and Ballard -- all understand this music fully, and breathe a life into it that Klein not only expects, but needs for it to fully flower. Still very under-recognized as one of the premier contemporary composer/arrangers in modern music, Klein is past due to rank among such elite as Toshiko Akiyoshi, Carla Bley, and Maria Schneider.

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