Dino Saluzzi & Jon Christensen: Senderos (ECM 1845)



Dino Saluzzi bandoneón
Jon Christensen drums, percussion
Recorded November 2002 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

If you’ve ever wanted to know what thinking musicians sound like, then you won’t want to pass on Senderos. This one-of-a-kind album pairs bandoneón maestro Dino Saluzzi with Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen for a session as spontaneous as it is fascinating. Putting both free improvisations and Saluzzi originals to the test, each of its 14 excursions pushes the limits of disclosure. On the one hand, Saluzzi’s playing is already so rhythmically multifaceted that to expand on it seems as futile as trying to add facets to a perfectly cut diamond. By the same token, Christensen is so sensitive to its surroundings that Saluzzi’s quietude becomes a suitable foil for the drummer’s whispering melodies, and vice versa. Granted, the combination may take some getting used to, less successful as it is in “Vientos” and “Todos los recuerdos,” each a playful scouring of fragmented cities and construction sites. That being said, there is good reason to hold on to these experiments, to trace in their sounding a line of thought developing in real time. We can relate to them as mirrors of vulnerability, of honesty.

The album thus follows a direct chronology, so that by the time they near the halfway point at “Los ceibos de mi pueblo…” Saluzzi and Christensen have begun to realize that rather than try to fill in each other’s spaces, it fares them better to let those spaces breathe. Christensen in particular knows the value of emptiness. The more of it he enables, the more it sings, as is clearest in his solo introduction to “Aspectos.” Saluzzi’s patient entrance unfolds its map without prematurely dancing toward the treasure it indicates. As well in “Huellas…,” where the drums seem to break off from the bellows—never muscling their way onward but marking all that came before. Such selflessness is inspiring to behold and achieves its most organic geometries in “Formas.”

The most lucid moments, however, are in Saluzzi’s four intermittent solos. Each is a soft spot, a blend of yearning and resolution that contorts disarmingly in “Fantasia” yet finds deepest traction in “Allá!… en los montes dormidos.” With an openness to expression that only decades can bring, it breathes, takes pause, reflects and self-reflects. So moved is Saluzzi that he sings toward the end, reminding us that all music begins and ends within.

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