Argentine-born pianist/composer Guillermo Klein has influences that range from the orchestral palette of Gil Evans to the folk melodies of his native land. He has mightily transcended those impulses to create his own music, which is unlike any other in the jazz or world music realms. Using a large ensemble, his writing allows loose structures to coexist with multi-layered, dense arrays of colors, many flying by quickly, to give a feeling of swirling kineticism only found in music by Evans, Carla Bley, or more symphonic 20th century works. In short, some brilliant music is being made here, not so much by the pianist himself on his main instrument, but through the compositions as interpreted by his "little" big band. There are four vocal tracks, the most interesting -- perhaps bizarre -- being the opener, "Diario de Alina Reyes," with Luciana Souza's lilting, Flora Purim-like voice and Klein played backwards on tape amidst dancing horns. "De Sábados Prá Dominguinhos," written by Hermeto Pascoal, has Souza and soprano saxophonist Chris Cheek darting here and there while the stark, shining trumpet of Diego Urcola lights the way. The seven purely instrumental tracks are as challenging as any new music offerings. Cheek's sorrow-filled to joyful soprano on "Viva" packs unbridled emotionalism. The ebb and flow of the ambiguously defined "Juana" really command attention, everything swirling around a one-note piano chord root anchored by tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry's sparse solo. "No Name Tune" is an urgent, churning number with minimal piano, stop-start antics, and the demanding trumpet of Juan Cruz De Urquiza. Jeff Ballard's "Child's Play" is anything but childlike, a dense polymelodic harmonic/rhythmic exercise. Bley's influence is most extant on the dramatic lost-love power ballad "El Camino" (with Cheek's piquant tenor lead), the dancing "De Sabados," and Richard Nant's "Chacarrichard" (with ultra-complex piano, peppered polyrhythms, and the expressive solo of up-and-coming tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby). The finale, "El Tiempo Entero," has chiming piano contrasting with a slightly funky-in-its-own-way ensemble. The instrumental music of Klein, enhanced by his excellent soloists, is nothing short of stunning, and realistically hard to put into words except one: great. While the vocals may fall short of the other sounds, this remains one of the most engaging and intriguing recordings of recent memory, and a solid candidate for world music CD of the year. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos