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Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos: Live in Barcelona

Klein, a native Argentinean who paid his dues in New York in the ’90s, is now living in Barcelona, where this album was recorded during last year’s Barcelona Jazz Festival. His writing for the 11-piece ensemble is highly intellectualized, with evasive key centers, shifting tempos, hypnotic percussive stretches, punctuated by fascinating trumpet and tenor “conversations.” (Unfortunately there’s no order of soloists; their efforts remain uncredited.) That interplay peaks in “Chucaro,” assumes a series of jaunty echoes in “El Espejo” and becomes delightfully contrapuntal in “La Ultima.”

Ignore the first two tracks, where the comping from Klein takes on a muddy texture, but there’s no way to ignore vocalist Carme Canela. Her “Ojos Cerrados,” accompanied by Klein’s piano alone, reveals delicate, poignant phrasing on a ballad with unpredictable changes. On “Richard” she shows excellent range during her wordless unison with tenor or trumpet. On “Flores,” Canela and Klein sing in unison over a low pedal point in what sounds like alternating 6/8 and 5/8. Too bad that’s Klein’s only vocal. By the way, his writing on “El Camino” is extremely cinematic: moody, “noir” and menacing. He should try film scoring.

Originally Published