Dino Saluzzi might just be one of the musicians of our time who has made the greatest effort in uniting European and Latin American musical currents. Ever since the 1950s, his music has crossed the boundaries of genres as well as national borders.
Born in Salta, North-Western Argentina, in 1935, Saluzzi grew up in a village with no electricity. Even without radio or a gramophone, young Dino was brought to love music by his father, who taught him how to play the guitar and the mandolin. Raised with the love for folk music, he was presented with an instrument that would shape the new wave of Argentinian tango: The bandoneon.
The bandoneon is a type of accordion that came to Argentina with German sailors. The Argentinian tango legend Astor Piazzolla once said that the bandoneon relates to an accordion the way an orange relates to a lemon: While the accordion has an “acid sound” and is a “happy instrument”, “the bandoneon has a velvet sound, a religious sound. It is meant to play religious music”.
Dino began playing the bandoneon when he was seven, and he joined a local band at the age of fourteen. Venturing out to Buenos Aires to study, he became a part of the national broadcasting orchestra and joined the avant-garde tango circles in the city, led by Piazzolla.
Dino Saluzzi never took any interest in categorizing his music. It might be just as well: it is extremely hard to find a descriptive label for the complex music he has created throughout the years – alone or in contribution with musicians like Al Di Meola, Charlie Haden and Palle Mikkelborg.
Saluzzi’s contribution to this year’s Oslo World Music Festival is “Navidad en los Andes”, his first live recording for the prestigious label ECM. He will be assisted by his long-time musical partner Anja Lechner on the cello and his brother Felix, playing the clarinet and the saxophone.
In Saluzzi’s hands, the bandoneon conjures up music in the fashion of Argentinian tango, jazz and avant-garde – but also tunes with deep roots in Latin American villages and Indian culture.
Dino Saluzzi – Bandoneon
Anja Lechner – Cello
Felix Saluzzi – saxophone and clarinett
Text: Kristian Krogh-Sørensen