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Guillermo Klein: Each Song, Its Own World

Fernando Gonzalez profiles Argentine pianist

Guillermo Klein
Guillermo Klein
Guillermo Klein
Guillermo Klein

On a cold late winter afternoon, sitting at a table in an enclosed patio in his Buenos Aires home, Argentine pianist, composer and bandleader Guillermo Klein takes another drag of his cigarette as he considers a question from his visitor. In his responses, like in his music, there seems to be no rote formulas, no practiced licks, no stunt runs. As in his music, he seems to take each opportunity to start from scratch, consider his options and compose his answers as much for himself as for whoever is listening.

“From jazz I took concepts,” he says calmly, in his gravelly voice. “In jazz you can say, ‘Let’s play on this scale,’ or, ‘Let’s play free here.’ Conceptual things. But harmonically, it didn’t add anything [to my music]. I went to Berklee, but except [for the writing of] Duke or Wayne [Shorter], zero,” he says. “I had already transcribed [Argentine rocker Luis Alberto] Spinetta’s ‘Starosta el Idiota,’ or Charly [Garcia]’s ‘No Soy Un Extraño.’ I had studied Bach and Chopin already.” He lets his voice trail off as he shrugs.

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