Jazz may not be a sport but Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos CD, Filtros, proves the winning power of teamwork. Offering sometimes-complex musical ideas in a thoroughly accessible and entertaining way, the Argentinean-born Klein stands out as a bandleader, composer and pianist. But this unassuming master, who cut his teeth in the mid '90s at Smalls with an earlier version of Los Guachos, gives his collaborators ample room to infuse his always inventive and somewhat Latin-accented originals with verve and precision.
This lineup of 11 musiciansDiego Urcola (valve trombone and trumpet), Sandro Tomasi (trombone), Miguel Zenon (alto saxophone and flute), Ben Monder (guitar), Jeff Ballard (drums) with Chris Cheek and Bill McHenry on saxophones and trumpeter Taylor Haskins, percussionist Richard Nant and electric bassist Fernando Huergowas rounded up to a talented dozen with the addition of the highly effective dusky-voiced singer Carmen Canela during a weeklong run at the Village Vanguard last month; she fit seamlessly into this gifted assemblage of varied and pleasing instrumental voiceswith particular sparkle in a duet-like composition co-featuring Tomasi. (She shares some vocal duty on the CD with Klein, who can be counted on to sing expressively on occasion, notably the affecting track "Amor Profundo").
It's hard to play favorites with this beautiful music, which shone even brighter live, including several of Klein's deeply moving originals, the traditional Argentinean folk song "Vaca," György Ligeti's "Hungarian Rock," Oliver Messiaen's "Louange a l'Eternitie de Jesus, as well as the addition of a take on "Fascinatin' Rhythm" that nearly brought down the house. In performance and in concept all of the compositions (and improvisations) offered by Klein and company are melodically, harmonically and rhythmically sound.
Va Roman; Miula; Manuel; Yeso; Amor Profundo; Memes; Volante; Luz de Liz (Filtros); Vaca; Louange a L'eternite de Jesus.
Richard Nant: percussion; Ben Monder: guitar; Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone, flute; Sandro Tomasi: trombone; Taylor Haskins: trumpet; Chris Cheek: soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones; Jeff Ballard: drums; Fernando Huergo: electric bass; Guillermo Klein: piano, vocals; Bill McHenry: tenor and soprano saxophones; Diego Urcola: trumpet, valve trombone.