Dino Saluzzi

Dino Saluzzi

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The celebrated work of Argentine composer and bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi resides at the intersection of tango, improvisation, folk music, jazz, and modern classical composition. Early albums such as 1978's Dedicatoria and 1980's Bermejo showcased an already unique fusion of electric Latin jazz and tango that took him to the festival stages of Europe. Saluzzi's ECM discography began with the completely solo Kultrum in 1983; a spontaneous example of the bandoneonist's storytelling art, it marked the first of many musical "imaginary returns" to the towns and villages of his childhood. He has also recorded meetings with jazz musicians, including 1985's Once Upon a Time: Far Away in the South with Charlie Haden. In 1991, he issued Mojotoro with the Dino Saluzzi Group; its roster included his brothers Celso and Felix and son Jose Maria. In 2002 he issued the duo outing Senderos with drummer Jon Christensen. In 2011, he worked he with brother Felix and cellist Anja Lechner on the acclaimed Navidad de Los Andes and returned to solo recording for 2020's Albores. Saluzzi was born in 1935 in Campo Santo, in the Salta region of Argentina. He is the son of multi-instrumentalist and composer Cayetano Saluzzi, and spent his childhood in Buenos Aires; he was taught the fundamentals of the bandoneon by his father at age seven. By the time he was 14, he was accomplished enough to lead his own band, the Trio Carnival. Saluzzi began his professional career while studying in Buenos Aires. He successfully auditioned and became a member of the symphonic Orquesta Estable at Radio el Mundo, Argentina's first radio station. It was in Buenos Aires, too, that he met composer and bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla. He left his job with the radio orchestra in 1956 and returned to Salta to develop his own compositional style. Saluzzi was already consciously incorporating folk elements with popular forms, jazz, and classical music. Not interested in "common eclecticism," he sought a flexible form that was "vital and real beyond the conventions." That intention has continued to guide his work. In 1970, Saluzzi joined the prestigious Los Chalchaleros. Established during the '40s, they were among the country's premier folk ensembles. Saluzzi made his recording debut with them on 1971's La Cerrillana as a co-billed soloist. He recorded four more albums with them between 1972 and 1976. While working with the prestigious group, Saluzzi garnered recognition at radio and television as well as engendering interest from music critics across South America and Europe. In 1978, he signed to RCA and issued Dedicatoria, his leader debut. A revolutionary amalgam of jazz fusion, tango, and choral music, it won over European critics wholesale and led to Saluzzi performing on the festival circuit. Bermejo followed in 1980 and netted a regional hit with his version of "El Condor Pasa." By the early '80s, Saluzzi had already developed his unique bop-inflected, post-modern approach to the tango. It artfully straddled the musical past, present, and future through its intersection of several genres. ECM label boss Manfred Eicher heard Saluzzi's playing at a festival and signed him in 1982. His debut was 1983's prize-winning Kultrum, where he performed completely solo on several instruments. The album drew positive notice from U.S. critics at Downbeat and other publications. Between his final two fusion dates for RCA -- Vivencias (1984) and Vivencias II (1987) -- Saluzzi recorded Once Upon a Time: Far Away in the South for ECM, fronting a jazz quartet that included bassist Charlie Haden, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, and drummer Pierre Favre. A year later, he co-led a quintet with trumpeter Enrico Rava on Volver. He returned to solo recording for 1988's globally celebrated Andina. Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard was so taken with the album he responded by using its music in the films Nouvelle Vague and Histoire(s) du Cinéma. Given that Saluzzi's deal with ECM was not exclusive, he cut the completely solo Argentina for Germany's West Wind Latina label in 1991, which proved to be a very busy year. In addition to playing with guitarist Al Di Meola on World Sinfonia, he added bandoneon to Rickie Lee Jones' Pop Pop. Saluzzi also founded the Dino Saluzzi Family Project (shortly thereafter renamed the Dino Saluzzi Group). Among its members were his brothers Celso and Felix and his son Jose Maria. They issued Mojotoro on ECM in 1992. That same year, Saluzzi played a prominent role on Mikkelborg's Columbia album Anything But Grey. In 1995, he, bassist Anthony Cox, and vibraphonist/marimbist David Friedman cut the global fusion outing Rios for Intuition. He also appeared on Kip Hanrahan's provocative All Roads Are Made of the Flesh. He made his final recorded appearance with Di Meola on 1996's Di Meola Plays Piazzolla. In 1998, Saluzzi returned to fusing nuevo tango and contemporary jazz on Cite de la Musique in a trio that included his son Jose Maria on guitars and Marc Johnson on basses. The following year, Saluzzi released Kultrum: Music for Bandoneon & Strings, recorded in collaboration with the Rosamunde Quartett. A showcase for his chamber music, it erased demarcation lines between composition and improvisation, as well as between so-called "serious" and popular musics. That year, Saluzzi also joined Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's quintet -- with saxophonist John Surman, drummer Jon Christensen, and bassist Anders Jormin -- for the chart-topping, internationally acclaimed From the Green Hill. After touring with his own groups as well as with Stanko, Saluzzi resumed recording as a leader for 2001's Responsorium with Jose Maria and double bassist Palle Danielson. For 2005's European-charting Senderos, he stripped things down even further: The album was a collection of loosely composed, primarily improvised pieces recorded in a duo with Christensen. The Dino Saluzzi Group reassembled for 2006's Juan Condori; the acclaimed date saw the band tour South America, Europe, and Asia. He and cellist Anja Lechner issued the duo outing Ojos Negros the following year. Saluzzi issued his first-ever live outing in 2010. El Encuentro was a concerto that featured four distinct compositions recorded in concert with the Metropole Orchestra under the direction of conductor Jules Buckley for NPS Radio in the Netherlands. In addition to his own role as a soloist, he enlisted brother Felix on saxophones and Lechner on cello. He returned to the recording studio for 2011's Navidad de los Andes, an intimate trio offering with Felix and Lechner sans orchestra. The same year the bandoneonist, violinist Gidon Kremer, and vibraphonist Andrei Pushkarev co-led the tribute date Giya Kancheli: Themes from the Songbook. Saluzzi reassembled his family group in a Buenos Aires studio during the summer of 2013. With José Maria on guitars, Felix on reed and winds, and nephew Matias on bass, he also brought in guitarist Nicolas "Colacho" Brizuela and percussionist Quintino Cinalli. The resulting El Valle de la Infancia appeared to universal acclaim during the summer of 2014. For 2020's Albores, Saluzzi returned to recording completely solo for the first time in more than 30 years. Working in the Saluzzi Music Studio in Buenos Aires between February and June of 2019, the music on Albores showcased the bandoneonist's well-developed gift for subtle but masterful musical storytelling. His sonic soliloquies combine memories, biography, and creative meditations on the fleeting passage of time. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

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