Guillermo Klein: Muse and Roots

Eric Benson By

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Thelonious (night club) opened at that time too. Thelonious was a new current. It was like Smalls [in New York]. For a bunch of months, I had a steady gig every Wednesday, like I'd had at Smalls. I'm doing the same thing now in Barcelona. I like to be a resident where I live. I like having a continuous gig.

Before Thelonious opened, you couldn't find anything like that in Buenos Aires. For that, we should build a monument to the guys who run Thelonious. It's where a lot of bands developed. I think Thelonious had a lot to do with [the development of the Buenos Aires scene]. It also had to do with a lot of people, who had been abroad, returning with open minds, like Richard Nant, Juan Cruz de Urquiza, Ernesto Jodos, and me, when I was there.

AAJ: What exactly did you guys bring?

GK: If you want what you're doing to be authentic, it has to come from the depths of your being. Sometimes what comes from those depths is going to have things from [Argentine rock musician] Charly Garcia, it'll have things from Spinetta, it'll have things from [fokloric music innovator] Cuchi Leguizamon, it'll have things from traditional folkloric music, from [Astor] Piazzolla. All of that is much more authentic than playing jazz that's pseudo-Brecker, pseudo-Yellowjackets, or pseudo-whatever kind of fusion you want to talk about. I think that we've learned how to express our roots again. The new generation has embraced that tradition with a lot of pride.

AAJ: Do you ever want to go back to live in Buenos Aires?

GK: Yes. Buenos Aires gives me a lot of energy, but it's a kind of violent energy. I want to grow a lot more, so that I don't feel so violent when I'm there. It's tough because I fix on all of the injustice.

I've never stopped dreaming of Buenos Aires, but I have to go back when I'm ready. Returning to Buenos Aires right before the crisis was a very powerful thing for my wife and me. It's a thing that stays with you in your subconscious. [Buenos Aires] makes me crazy, but it's inevitable that I'm going to return.

What Lies Ahead

AAJ: Is your new album, Filtros, an extension of what you did with Los Guachos in the past? Or is it a new kind of development?

GK: The new disc is an extension, but what's very different is that that there's a lot of music that I've written in the last three, four years that I played in Buenos Aires, and played in Barcelona. There's a lot of singing as well.

We recorded this album right after doing two weeks at the Village Vanguard, and because of that it sounds really good, the music is very focused. It's a heavy disc with a clear message; very well defined. One thing that I've learned over the years is not to have too many musical whims. This is music without whims.

AAJ: And you're going to be playing at the Village Vanguard again in June...

GK: Yeah. Then we're going to play at the Newport Jazz Festival, and in October, I'm coming to Buenos Aires. In general, when I come to play in Buenos Aires, I pay for the flight. This is the first time that I'm not paying. That's a huge milestone for me.

We're going to do a tribute to Cuchi Leguizamon that will be part of the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival. I'm already writing every day. I wake up and I learn one of his songs. Distance is a very subjective thing. When I'm playing one of Cuchi's songs, I'm in [the Buenos Aires neighborhood of] San Telmo.
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