Argentina’s loss may have been Boston and New York City’s gain when Guillermo Klein moved from his native country in 1990. But for a gentleman pianist, composer and singer whose inspirations included the plush rhythm of America’s postbop mien, Brazil’s socio-politicized Milton Nascimento, the swirling brass choruses of Duke Ellington, and the harmony of Wayne Shorter, Klein’s wild diversity seemed surprisingly misunderstood here. Since 2000, he’s lived in Buenos Aires. But that doesn’t mean he’s eschewed the influence of bop, the Duke or Shorter. The harmonies laced throughout his 11-piece ensemble and this, Klein’s sixth album, still reek of Shorter’s eccentric grace. Klein’s arrangements, even when sparse, hum with the lustrous elegance of Ellington at his haughtiest.
The composer’s usual love of mixing tempos and meters can be heard best on “Luz de Liz (Filtros),” where Klein’s dashing piano lines find themselves dancing with drummer Jeff Ballard’s experiments. What has changed, ever so slightly, is that Klein is including even more of the Latin folk music feel indigenous to his Argentine roots and his new Buenos Aires home life. It’s impossible not to hear the moist Argentine heat in Diego Urcola’s valve trombone and Miguel Zenón’s flute on “Muila.” But mostly, it’s hearing so much more of Klein’s smoky, sultry voice than usual, singing atop meters of five and seven on the softly-strung “Amor Profundo” or the gently folksy opener “Va Roman” that his heritage is most evident. Rich big-band charts, murky minimalist touches and quirky rhythms aside, Klein’s true majesty can be found on Filtros within the dedication he gives to his homelands.