Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein: Bienestan (2011)
There might actually have been a universe called "Bienestan" and it may have existed for as long as Guillermo Klein. The rich sonic topography of this undiscovered place is just emerging. It is a place of oceans of sound, with energetic waves that make their rhythmic way to lap upon a shore that glistens with all manner of richly harmonized melodies. The very air on this universe is thick with reports of complex rhythms bounced across many interstellar regions from the Africa of earthly consciousness. These rhythms are gloriously intertwined with Latin ones that once swept ashore on the hot and golden Iberian coastline, many historic ages ago and were refined by velvet gentlemen as far removed as Madrid and Andalusia was from Paris and Milan. The operatic sweep of these rhythms somehow made it into the majesterium that is presided by Klein, with his sponge-like sensibility. The existence of Bienestan is as fortuitous as all of the music that comes from its presiding grace, Klein himself. Bienestan, the album, has been happily finished somewhere on earth, with the unbridled genius of pianist Aaron Goldberg and a cohort of other fine musicians.
This is a brooding, dense album, which is the reason why it is so unique and enjoyable, unlike many albums where the density of constantly changing rhythmic enchantment mingles with even denser harmonies. It is not hard to wrap the mind around these harmonies, but it certainly is amazing to note that these have been created by just two keyboards, an occasional saxophonist or two and a percussion colorist as wise beyond his years as Eric Harland. This is evident as much on the stunning recasting of Charlie Parker's "Moose The Mooche" as it is on the dark beauty of the magical and mysterious "Manhã de Carnaval." Of course Klein's arrangements are superb and mostly the reason why this album is destined to become a classic. Klein appears not only to have sensibility where a myriad of labyrinthine harmonies converge, but he and Goldberg seem to have found a way to navigate their way through the lush hinterland of such exquisite songs as "Burrito," "Human Feel" and of course the sublime "Implacable" and the languorous beauty of "Airport Fugue." And if further reassurance of the musicians' ability to negotiate Klein's enigmatic modulation of the "three" and "four" rhythmic sequences is really required, there is always the two versions of "Manhã de Carnaval." Finally there are the moving colors that the sextet uses to interpret "Yellow Roses," which is wonderful because they so embellish the title's monochromaticism.
This is an impressive album, not least because it is fired up by the alternate brilliance of Aaron Goldberg, who has interpreted Klein's music on Bienestan with utter genius, indeed.
Track Listing: All The Things You Are; Implacable; Moose The Mooche; Burrito; Human Feel; Anita; Blues for Alice; Manhã de Carnaval (Black Orpheus); Airport Fugue; Manhã de Carnaval (Orfeo Negro); Yellow Roses; Impresion de Bienstar; Amtrak/All The Things You Are.
Personnel: Aaron Goldberg: piano; Guillermo Klein: Fender Rhodes; Matt Penman: acoustic bass; Eric Harland: drums; Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone (3, 5-7, 11); Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone (5, 6), soprano saxophone (11).
Record Label: Sunnyside Records