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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)

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The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo, Innovation and Revolution

The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo
The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo
San Francisco, California, USA – The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo (RGNET1140CD) is one of the latest installments in the rough guide series. It showcases the diverse fragmentation of styles that tango has been experiencing since the death of Astor Piazzolla, the greatest innovator.

New artists are revolutionizing tango from within, forging an urban folk style for their own times and lives. ‘Nuevo’ (or ‘New’) tango moves through dark-hued dub tango, tango electronica, tango with a sassy salsa twist, and even grungy tango for the rock generation.

Today, contemporary tango, though still firmly rooted in the mordant, melancholy soul of the urban Argentinean, adds newly imported sounds and ideas into the mix, and the results are as stirring as they were a century ago. A member of the Tango Nuevo generation of the 1960s and 1970s, today Dino
Saluzzi remains at the cutting edge of classical tango. Influenced by Andean rhythms and Bela Bartók in equal measure, he has consistently kept faithful to the guiding ethos of constant exploration and innovation. Recognized as a master storyteller, ‘Reprise: Los Hijos De Fierro’ alludes to the spiritual children of fictional gaucho hero Martín Fierro.

Born in 1936, Juan Carlos Cáceres heard scratchy old orchestras as a child and grew up wanting to revamp tango. Years spent outside Argentina left him with a passion for a pan-Latin sound, and his
brilliant, beat-driven tangos tap into Afro-Uruguayan candombé, murga street drumming and the milonga side of the tango tradition.

The moment when emerging legend Adriana Varela met the superstar Roberto Polaco Goyeneche was a crucial moment for New Tango. Varela and Goyeneche couple up here on a pained, passionate recording of one of the most notorious tango songs ever written – ‘Balada Para Un Loco’ – in which Varela introduces her unique, quasi-macho style of singing.

Sandra Luna has been singing live since her pre-teens and years spent in the company of tango giants like Nelly Omar and Hector Varely nurtured her authentic tanguera soul. ‘Lejana Tierra Mia’, taken from her widely acclaimed debut album Tango Varon, is a beautiful string-based adaptation
of a song by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera.

Many Tango Nuevo artists feel the need to inject some of tango’s original grit and sass back into the genre. Daniel Melingo brings back the hoodlum attitudes of the early compadritos to songs about morphine, knife fights, betrayal and bad living on Buenos Aires’ backstreets. His gravel-filled voice
draws in mixed audiences of young tango fans, skins, Goths and passing tramps. Although ‘Sin Luna’ is a sweet ballad, it is deeply tango in spirit.

In their search for a streetwise tango attuned to the rock generation, La Chicana based their repertoire around ironic, witty, irreverent songs from the pre-1920s. ‘La Marylin’ is essentially a sassy tango-ized waltz and La Chicana’s recent albums show their mould-breaking pursuit of Africanized beats, Americana and vernacular folk styles. Patricia Andrade also argues that the only way to do New Tango is to make it urban and edgy. She performs waltzes, milongas and tango numbers, exploiting the rhythms and cacophonies of the modern city.

In Buenos Aires, a division between rock, folk and tango never really existed, and ever since the 1960s artists have been incorporating these influences into tango. Omar Mollo spent thirty years as a leading artist in Argentina’s hectic rock nacional scene, which gives his tangos a rough and
raucous edge. His choice of lyrics celebrates the hard-drinking, brothel-creeping, night-stalking side of the tango lifestyle and turns a cynical gaze on society. Artists like Adrián Iaies have been mixing tango with jazz for over fifty years, and his work has won him a Latin Grammy nomination.

Juanjo Domínguez is arguably Argentina’s most important guitarist. He moves with ease between native Argentinean/Creole folk styles and tango, and effortlessly segues from frantic finger-picking to more subtle considered solos.

Giving intense, uncompromising and utterly enthralling performances, Julio Pane is one of a handful of bandoneón players who can fill a stage with no backing at all. ‘Responso’, written by Aníbal Troilo, is taken from Pane’s acclaimed album A Las Orquestas.

The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo also features the talented tanguera’s Lidia Borda and Sonia Possetti, the big multi-instrumental sounds of Orquesta El Arranque, and music from Trío Gorosito Cataldi De La Vega, Carlos Libedinsky and Quinteto La Camorra. This album presents an excellent overview of Tango Nuevo, a genre that is utterly Argentine in both its roots and its ethos, and also one of the twentieth century’s truly international forms.

Buy The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo

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