Dino Saluzzi (AR)
“Music is implicit in all people.. It’s just that musicians are those who bring it out, because they know a way to give it body and form. […] If you’re authentic and open to receiving influences from your surroundings, surely you’ll express your surroundings.”
A key figure in contemporary South American music, Dino Saluzzi was born in the little village of Campo Santo in northern Argentina in 1935. “My father worked on a sugar plantation, and, in his free time, he played the bandoneon and studied lead sheets of tango and folkloric music. There weren’t books, or schools, or radio — nothing. Nevertheless, my father was able to transmit a musical education to me; music that, later, when I was studying, I realised that I already knew—not from the point of view of reason or rationality, but rather in a different way, a strange way, the way that is produced by oral transmission”. That notion of centrality of the oral transmission of culture is one that has remained strong in Saluzzi’s musical identity ever since.
Saluzzi began playing professionally while studying in Buenos Aires, where he met Astor Piazzolla, then in the process of shaping the Tango Nuevo idiom. In 1956, Saluzzi retuned to the rural district of Salta to concentrate on his compositions, now consciously incorporating folk music elements.
Saluzzi’s ECM discography was launched in 1982 with a solo album, Kultrum, a spontaneous example of the bandoneonist’s art as “storyteller” and the first of many “imaginary returns” to the towns and villages of his childhood. From the early 80s, there were many meetings with jazz musicians: Charlie Haden, Palle Mikkelborg and Pierre Favre (Once upon a Time – Far Away in the South); Enrico Rava (Volver); Marc Johnson (Cité de la Musique); Tomasz Stanko and John Surman (on Stanko’s From the Green Hill); Palle Danielsson (Responsorium); and Jon Christensen (Senderos). Saluzzi’s chamber music for bandoneon and strings on Kultrum, a collaboration with the Rosamund Quartett, erased demarcation lines between composition and improvisation, between so-called serious and popular music.
On several projects Saluzzi has been accompanied by his guitarist son José, who first recorded with him, at the age of thirteen, as drummer on Mojotoro. The entire Saluzzi clan is packed with idiosyncratic musical talents and Dino has frequently toured with blood relatives and in-laws as the Saluzzi Family Band. If all of Saluzzi’s oeuvre is, at some level, about his homeland and his memories, the family discs are amongst its purest expressions. As Leopoldo Castilla wrote in the liner notes for the 2014 release, El Valle de la Infancia: “The music feels boundless, more than music, a true evocation of people and place. The bandoneon breathes the air of burning sugar cane in the Siancas valley in Salta, Argentina.”