Dino Saluzzi Group ‘El Valle De La Infancia’ CD (ECM) 4/5

Dino-Saluzzi-GroupArgentina’s north-western border with Bolivia and Chile provides breathtaking beauty in the Siancas valley of Salta and the colonial buildings of the region. It is also a sumptuous musical setting for the lively folk scene that thrives there with multiple venues or peñas providing the opportunity to hear live performances. This is the inspiration for bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi’s latest album with an unusual line up that includes tenor saxophone and clarinet, folk (requinto) and classical guitars, bass (acoustic and electric versions) and drums. Rather than performing in the more conventional milieu of urban tango, Saluzzi has instead focused on the folk music of Argentina that vocalist Mercedes Sosa so expertly chronicled and with some classical influences discernible. That said, the innovatory work of Piazzolla is not altogether forgotten and is skilfully weaved into the mix. Saluzzi calls this his family band and with good reason. Three brothers, Matiás (bass), Felix (reeds) and José Maria (guitars) form part of the group and first recorded on ECM with the 1991 releases ‘Mojotoro’ while the last before the latest project was ‘Juan Condori’ (ECM) from 2005. The musical scene is set by the evocative three-part suite ‘Pueblo’ which, as its title suggest, conjures up a dusty town in the Andean north-west with some lovely classical guitar touches from Nicolás ‘Colacho’ Brizuela. An atmospheric opener in ‘Sombras’ is akin to a late-night peñas session while a gorgeous folk-based piece comes in the shape of ‘La Polvadera’ is an album highlight. Bi-lingual inner sleeve notes are written by the leader and give some insight into his thinking and approach towards the album itself. Watch out for further examples of Dino Saluzzi’s work in forthcoming reviews. There is a whole gamut of Argentinian music genres, such as zamba and carnavalito, that have been largely ignored by the international record industry (though Argentine jazz saxophonist Gato Barbieri has made a fleeting reference to them on some of his early-mid 1970s albums on Impulse and are worth investigating), which is a great pity, and ECM are to be commended for shedding light on just one aspect of the country’s rich musical heritage.

Tim Stenhouse