For more than 30 years Dino Saluzzi has brought a poetic passion and heat to ECM beginning with the album Kultrum, his work sitting uniquely within the label’s vast range of styles.
In 2012 the documentary El Encuentro provided some firm insights to this most mysterious of music-makers whose work has so much earthiness but also so much improvisational abandon. Here with his brother Felix, son José Maria, and nephew Matías on reeds, guitar and bass respectively, plus the classical guitarist Nicolás Brizuela and drummer Quintino Cinalli on a studio album recorded in Buenos Aires last year comprised mainly of Saluzzi’s own compositions many of which are grouped into informal suites. In part a homage to the zamba, carnavalito and chacarera dance traditions of northern Argentina and its broader culture, the bandoneonist is quietly intense to begin and the album takes quite a while to reveal itself. The family band backs Saluzzi like listeners to the stories he is compelled to tell musically, the clarinet down-playing its natural perkiness, the classical guitar hinting at another kind of music entirely. Held in the interstices between the folk traditions of his native land and the improvised world of jazz from far northern places the sensual side emerges amid much nostalgia and café bar mystique on ‘Churqui’ the sadnesses quiet and acute and yet the band’s motion lifts the mood and the pieces all come together on ‘La Fiesta Popular’. Some lovely moments throughout amid the austerity of the chamber atmosphere: an album that casts a spell it’s hard to break. SG