Some of the richest, most evocative and fully self-realized music made on the New York scene last year came from the pen of a brilliant young pianist-composer-arranger from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Working at tiny workshop type venues like Small’s in the West Village and the C-Note in the East Village, Guillermo Klein was able to weave dreamy and disarmingly fresh tapestries of sound with his 12-piece ensemble of young turks, many of whom were fellow students of his when he attended the Berklee College in the early ’90s.
On Los Guachos II (Sunnyside), the 29-year-old Klein shows a flair for flowing harmonies and cluster voicings that swell from elegant motifs to dramatic peaks, reflecting such disparate influences as Gil Evans, Hermeto Pascoal, Kenny Wheeler, and his fellow countryman Astor Piazzolla. He also demonstrates a special affinity for groove, as heard on pulsating pieces like “Chacarrichard” and “No Name Tune,” as well as the rare ability to render simple heart-wrenching melodies, as on the haunting “Viva.”
A music conservatory student from the age of 11, Klein moved to Boston in 1990 to attend Berklee, where he studied with Herb Pomeroy, Hal Crook, and Jeff Friedman. He moved to New York in 1994 and continued to study with Carlos Franzetti, later landing an arranging gig for the United Nation Orchestra directed by Paquito D’Rivera. During the summer of 1995, Guillermo began a regular Sunday night residency at Small’s with his 12-piece Big Van. Their 1997 recording El Minotauro (Candid) documents music that Klein wrote in Boston before he hit the New York scene. “In school, concepts of harmony and form and rhythm were explained to me so clearly by all my teachers so I could have a friendship with music,” says Klein. “Since then I feel it’s up to me to discover and keep growing. So now the learning experience is from within. The urge comes from inside.”