Dino Saluzzi Group: Juan Condori (ECM 1978)

Juan Condori

Dino Saluzzi Group
Juan Condori

Dino Saluzzi bandoneon
Felix “Cuchara” Saluzzi tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet
José Maria Saluzzi acoustic and electric guitars
Matias Saluzzi double-bass, bass guitar
U.T. Gandhi drums, percussion
Recorded October 2005, Estudios Moebio, Buenos Aires
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Produced by Manfred Eicher

A Dino Saluzzi album is the audio equivalent of looking through a family photo album. Not so allegorically in this case, as Dino’s brother Felix (saxophones and clarinet), son José Maria (guitars), Felix’s son Matias (basses), and honorary kin U.T. Gandhi (drums and percussion) join the bandoneón virtuoso for this set of 12 moving pictures, each with its own thumb-worn page. Although named for a childhood friend whose free spirit holds special place in his heart, Juan Condori is less a personal portrait than it is a biography of a time and place preserved in memory. Indeed, from memory come the building blocks of Saluzzi’s music, the very blood without which it might never reach those bellows.

The themes of Juan Condori cross a few historical hairs, from the dying wisdom of South American indigenous peoples (“La Vuelta De Pedro Orillas” and “Chiriguano”) and the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires (“Memoria”) to the life force of music itself (“La Parecida”). If any such references describe a world we know, then it is all we can do to seek hope in these instruments of light: not only memory, but also remembrance. Aside from the acoustic “Soles” by José, written metallic on wind carrying an attic’s scent, the Pedro Laurenz tango classic “Milonga De Mis Amores,” and the spontaneous “Improvisacion,” all the music here is Saluzzi Sr.’s own. Father and son share moments of clear telepathy, as in the airy dance movements of “La Parecida,” in which they paint starbursts of light around the Matias’s deep axis. José enchants further in “A Juana, Mi Madre,” in which his electric evokes the nocturnal stylings of John Abercrombie, and in the title track, while Felix’s pastoral clarinet in “Las Cosas Amadas” and “Los Sauces” deepens the feeling of locality. These and more comprise a set one can only admire for its thematic integrity, its emotive charge, and the quiet flow of its sustenance.

Pay close attention to this one. It brings water to the desert.

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