Telmo's Tune

SSC1708 2023-08-18

Track List

Criolla - 5:39
Push Me Not - 4:13
Si vos me queres - 4:49
Telmo's Tune - 4:36
Amor profundo - 4:24
Burrito Mirror - 5:24
Camello - 5:26
Quiero - 4:29
A Navarro - 6:05


Chris Cheek - alto and soprano saxophone
Leo Genovese - fender rhodes and keyboards
Matt Pavolka - bass
Allan Mednard - drums
Guillermo Klein - piano

The past decade has found composer/pianist Guillermo Klein focusing on large projects. On his latest recording, Telmo’s Tune, Klein looks to recapture a feeling of spontaneity and community that he has missed. So rather than composing heavily conceptual pieces for his flagship Los Guachos ensemble, he chose to assemble a quintet (or, more appropriately, Quinteto) of New York based musicians to capture a more explorative band feeling.

Klein has made a name for himself as an expert composer, who finds ingenious ways to make the complicated feel natural and evolve. Many of his pieces over the past decade have evolved out of strict studies of musical phenomena that Klein was able to exercise and mold into highly rhythmic and inviting pieces for Los Guachos and other notable ensembles. These endeavors include delivering highly wrought compositions that require time for construction and preparation from the ensembles.

A break from these procedures would be a liberating experience for Klein, so when playing at New York’s legendary Village Vanguard jazz club during the summer of 2022, Klein recruited old friends and a newcomer to the fold to play a collection of tunes that provides plenty of avenues for expressive dimensions provided by individual decisions on the bandstand.

The Quinteto that Klein put together included longtime friends and collaborators, like bassist Matt Pavolka, Leo Genovese on Fender Rhodes and other keyboards, and Los Guachos saxophonist Chris Cheek. When Klein was recently introduced to drummer Allan Mednard, they had an instant connection, cementing Mednard’s role as a creative partner in the Quinteto.

The pieces that Klein and the group honed over their week at the Vanguard were developed in the moment by these great interpreters. After their week at the Vanguard, the Quinteto reconvened once more at Bacque Recording at the end of July to record Telmo’s Tune.

The recording begins with “Criolla,” a diatonic piece that Klein had begun in 1995 and experienced many transformations leading to this final version. The measured “Push Me Not” stems from a Phasing Rhythm that utilizes two chords from “Volante” from Klein’s Filtros album and makes them into a musical place with a particular vibe. Pavolka introduces “Si Vos Me Queres” with a gorgeous bass solo. The piece itself is a simple ballad with plenty of space, feeling simultaneously in and out of time.

The title track is named for Klein’s son, Charlie Telmo Klein, and utilizes a vamp which repeats with a variation in the middle voices of the harmony that switches from major to minor tonalities. Pavolka is featured on a moving arco bass solo here. Also revisited from Filtros, “Amor Profundo” includes a polyrhythmic game of displacement that helped Klein feel the rhythmic connection of the ensemble. The sedate “Burrito Mirror” continues Klein’s experiments with this harmony, this time mirroring the bass and tenor parts.

“Camello” was originally a part of Klein’s Solar Return Suite. While preparing for the Vanguard week, Klein found a missing section utilizing an Olivier Messiaen mode that developed into a fun to play, grooving tune. “Quiero” is one of Klein’s earliest pieces and contains some rock influence that Cheek and Genovese really squeeze out the nuances of during their solos. The recording concludes with the playful “A Navarro,” a piece that is based on a Brazilian choro form, though not directly referencing the style.

Taking a departure from the more dense, epic work that he has produced in the past, Guillermo Klein finds a liberating freshness in developing music with his Quinteto. This flexible ensemble is capable of expressing multitudes with Klein’s spare but focused musical ideas, as can be heard on their new recording, Telmo’s Tune.