Dino Saluzzi ‘Albores’ CD (ECM) 4/5

Recorded in Buenos Aires last year, ‘Albores’ (‘Dawn’), is undoubtedly one of Dino Saluzzi’s most intimate albums, featuring the Argentinian master of the bandoneon alone with the instrument that has been his constant companion since childhood. When a musician is totally at one with the instrument he plays, the instrument and the performer become one being, with no separation, no distinction between human and object, just one unified source. And so it is with Saluzzi on this wonderful recording.

ECM has documented Saluzzi’s work in many different contexts over the last few decades, but it was in fact as a solo performer that he made his first major statement for the label with ‘Kultrum’ in 1982, and then ‘Andina’ in 1988. His bandoneon soliloquies hold a special fascination. Listening to his tunes on this new recording is like listening to someone telling a story through their instrument. Tales of beauty, splendour, endeavour, courage and reflection all seem to blend seamlessly together, interwoven with a daring dash of tall tales like an old fisherman embellishing his already mesmerising tales from the sea. Saluzzi’s music traces many aspects of his long life and reflects upon friendships and on spiritual matters too, drawing inspiration from the arts and from everyday reality. Combining memories, meditations and imaginative flights of fancy, the bandoneonist captivates his listening audience.

The expressive, evocative nature of Saluzzi’s music has led him to perform in many successful settings in his lifetime. From his own family band, duo’s and trio’s, ensembles and orchestras, through collaborations with Charlie Haden, Jon Christensen, Palle Danielsson, Palle Mikkelborg, Enrico Rava and Pierre Favre, to name but a few. For me personally though, it is on the maestro’s solo recordings that one can really feel the true essence of the man and his music. His musical tales are multi-layered and ever-changing, fluid in nature yet skilful and sincere. The album opens with ‘Adios Maestro Kancheli’, a heartfelt tribute to the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, who died in 2019. ‘Ausencias’ – the redeeming memory – is a soft, thoughtful hymn, whilst ‘Segun me Cuenta la Vida-Milonga’ is gleefully playful in nature. A poet of both the streets and the countryside, ‘Intimo’ paints a picture of ‘Spring reflected in the lights of a yesteryear Buenos Aires.’ The ancestral sound of ‘La Cruz del Sur’ permeates a sense of sadness, which flows through to a feeling of loneliness on ‘Ecuyere’. The celebratory cheeriness of ‘Ficción’ is a welcome tonic, stuttering yet upbeat. There’s a lovely phrase in the liner notes that compliments the tune ‘Don Caye’ perfectly; You’ll save yourself the trouble if your name stands well with your fellow men. The album closes with the sentimental yet quietly uplifting ‘Ofrenda – Tocata’, a lovely piece filled with nostalgia and reminiscing. And that’s how I would best describe how Saluzzi’s music makes me feel… nostalgic.

Mike Gates

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