Saluzzi/Danielsson/Saluzzi: Responsorium (ECM 1816)

Responsorium

Responsorium

Dino Saluzzi bandoneon
Palle Danielsson double-bass
José Maria Saluzzi acoustic guitar
Recorded November 2001 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Responsorium is for all intents and purposes a companion album to 1997’s Cité de la Musique. The kinship is suggested not only in the instrumentation (bandoneón, double bass, acoustic guitar), but also by the similar composition of cover art, in which angled sunlight pours through glass and gives warm indications of a world beyond. Joined again by son José Maria, and replacing Marc Johnson with Palle Danielsson on upright, Dino opens the set with a dedication to his brother and fellow bandoneonista Celso (who can be heard on Mojotoro). The rhythmic impulse is uniquely his own and shines in every unexpected turn of phrase. “Mónica” treads even deeper into the forest, leaving a trail of crumbs for the hungry. It, too, feels like a dedication, perhaps to a child, and treats the bandoneón as a body from which to emanate virtue. Bass and guitar carry that virtue through mountains and valleys, leaving traces in every river it crosses. On the subject of crosses, “Responso por la muerte de Cruz” bows its head in reverence to the divine in the human, if not also the human in the divine. José Maria’s steady fingers take on most of the emotional load. His sensitivity arches over Danielsson’s low stitching with forlorn comfort.

The album gets its first boost in “Dele…, Don!!” The spirit of the tango is alive and well in this configuration. One might even hear the feet hitting the floor were it not for the sheer delicacy of the playing, for it is in its ability to float massive traditions in but an inch of water that the trio’s brilliance shines. Each player thus brings a unique stamp to the record. Whether it’s Danielsson’s shadowy punctuation (“Cuchara”), José Maria’s pliant voicing (“Reprise: Los hijos de Fierro”—note also his effortless soloing in “La pequeña historia de…!”), or Dino’s narrative ingenuity (“Vienen del sur los recuerdos”), there’s plenty to admire and re-admire in the spokes of this melodic wheel. And indeed, in the end, as the credits roll languidly across the screen of “Pampeana ‘Mapu,’” those unaccompanied bellows have more to say than an entire orchestra, able as they are to forge a choir of themselves. What they lack in speech they make up for in song, and with that song comes the drizzle of a force so genuine that it might just go on singing forever. There’s only one way to find out: listen.

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