In the last few years, there's been a quiet but impressive Argentine revolution in Latin jazz.
Keyboardist-composer Guillermo Klein's latest CD, Los Guachos II--the title roughly translates as "The Homeboys," and should not be confused with los gauchos, the country's legendary cowboys--aurally illustrates a Buenos Aires-based musical world-view that embraces the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa.
Klein, a Berklee School of Music graduate and former sideman with the United Nation Orchestra, molds and folds the Afro-Argentine milonga, tango, and chacarera dance rhythms into a unique jazz conception that is at once familiar, foreign, and fantastic. "Dario De Alina Reynes" is a 6/8, synthesized, syncopated seance with the Argentine writer Julio Cortazar.
Hermeto Pascoal's "De Sabados Pra Dominguinhos" is bossa nova border crossing with Luciana Souza's florid vocals and Diego Urcola's full-bodied trumpet flights.
Klein's funereal voice paints the slow milonga, "Se Me La Voz," in a mournful indigo hue, contrasted by the percussive clave/chacarera percolations of "No Name Tune" topped by trumpeter Juan Cruz Urquiza's Freddie Hubbard-like tones. On "Child's Play," a Ghanian Afro-beat flows with Ben Monder's high-life guitar. The South American bombo drum drives "Curandero" with Chilean vocalist Claudia Acuna.
As Klein's musicianship grows, his homeland will contribute to jazz in the 21st century the same way that Afro-Cuban influences did 100 years ago. --Eugene Holley Jr.