Artist Profiles: Dino Saluzzi

Dino Saluzzi – Photo by Bernhard Ley

Dino Saluzzi is one of the leading bandoneon players in the world. Timoteo “Dino” Saluzzi was born in Campo Santo in northern Argentina and led his first group at the age of 14. He began to play professionally while studying in Buenos Aires. It was in Buenos Aires, too, that he met and befriended Astor Piazzolla as the term “tango nuevo” began to gain currency.

Even though Piazzolla and Saluzzi always respected each other’s work, Dino has never cared to put a label on his own work. But he has emphasized in numerous interviews that his is not an “art music” but a music that comes out of life and attempts to express the emotions, thoughts and memories that accompany it. And this has remained as true of the work that stresses primarily his compositional projects such as the ongoing Kultrum collaboration with the Rosamunde Quartett – as it is of work in which improvisation has a larger role to play, as on Senderos.

From his first ECM album, recorded in 1982, Saluzzi’s music was well received by the world’s press.

In 1997 at the ECM Festival in Badenweiler, Germany, Dino Saluzzi and Jon Christensen, bandoneonist and drummer, came together originally to play music of Krzysztof Komeda with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. The line-up, also included saxophonist John Surman, violinist Michelle Makarski and bassist Anders Jormin, went on to play on Stanko’s prize-winning album From the Green Hill and toured extensively.

That was an interesting band but difficult to present live because Dino often plays so quietly,” said Christensen. “As a drummer I actually like that, bringing the volume level right down. It’s very good for intense listening. And in fact you can play quietly and very dynamically. Anyway, Dino and I qot to be very good friends on the Stanko tours, we have a very good understanding. Of course, rm never going to be a tango drummer (laughter) and fortunately Dino doesn’t want that. I know he also appreciates the possibility just to play very openly and to see what happens…”

Senderos (paths in Spanish) is one of the most spontaneously-conceived of all Saluzzi’s albums. The Argentine master musician was in Oslo, working on another project in November 2002, when producer Manfred Eicher first proposed an immediate start upon a new solo album. “And then I got a phone call,” drummer Jon Christensen recalls, “How about coming over and adding some cymbals on a few tracks?’ And then it was, ‘Well, why don’t the two of you play a few things together?’ And about three hours later, we realized we’d made an album. I love to work this way, and it seems only to happen with this record company.”

On Senderos, you can almost hear the artists thinking aloud as they shape the music in the moment. Ten of the album’s pieces are duets. Some are Dino’s songs, some are freely improvised. There are also four solo bandoneon pieces that seem to melt with nostalgia for the simple life which Saluzzi left behind so long ago in the village of Campo Santo.

In recent years Dino Saluzzi has toured and recorded primarily with his son, guitarist José Maria Saluzzi, the two of them playing in trios with Marc Johnson (Cite de la Musique) and Palle Danielsson (Responsorium).

Ojos Negros was Saluzzi’s 2007 release. It is chamber music with inspirational roots in Argentine traditions, putting the emphasis on Dino Saluzzi’s finely-crafted compositions and adds the beautiful old tango by Vicente Greco that is the album’s title track. Interplay and improvisation also have roles to play in a recording that follows six years of duo concerts as well as ten years of collaboration between bandoneon master Saluzzi and the Rosamunde Quartet, of which cellist Anja Lechner is a founder member. They have taken their time to get this right.

A classical musician firstly, Anja Lechner’s interest in tango goes back some 25 years, when she formed a duo with pianist Peter Ludwig to play their German interpretations of the idiom. She gave her first concerts in Argentina in the early 1980s and made a point of looking for tango’s master musicians. But she first encountered Dino Saluzzi at a Munich concert where he played solo bandoneon. “He was playing a music that was really his own. When we finally began to play together I can say that I entered a new world.”

The shared work has been a gradual process of becoming freer with the material while respecting it, resulting in a very integrated music. Saluzzi praises the cellist’s commitment and stylistic independence: “Anja has become part of the music without losing her own identity. I think this is very important. She doesn’t try to imitate the tango players. She has her own sound and character, and this makes our project together culturally richer.”

Discography:

De Vuelta a Salta (RCA Camden, 1972)
La Cerrillana, with Los Chalchaleros (RCA Victor, 1972)
Bandoneón Tierra Adentro – Vol. 1 (RCA Camdon, 1973)
Bandoneón Tierra Adentro – Vol. 2 (RCA Victor, 1975)
Dedicatoria (Melopea, 1977)
Bermejo (Microfón, 1980)
Kultrum (ECM, 1982)
Once Upon a Time – Far Away in the South (ECM, 1985)
Volver with Enrico Rava (ECM, 1986)
Andina (ECM, 1988)
Argentina (West Wind Latina, 1991)
Mojotoro (ECM, 1991)
Rios, with Anthony Cox and David Friedman (veraBra, 1995)
Cité de la Musique (ECM, 1996)
Kultrum with the Rosamunde Quartett (ECM, 1998)
Responsorium (ECM, 2001)
Senderos (ECM, 2002)
Juan Condori (ECM, 2005)
Trio Tage, with George Gruntz and Thierry Lang (PJL, 2005)
Ojos Negros, with Anja Lechner (ECM, 2006)
El Encuentro (ECM, 2009)
Navidad de Los Andes, with Anja Lechner and Felix Saluzzi (ECM, 2011)
El Valle de la Infancia (ECM, 2014)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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