Dino Saluzzi: Albores (ECM 2638)

Dino Saluzzi

Dino Saluzzi bandoneón
Recorded February-October 2019
Saluzzi Music Studios, Buenos Aires
Recording engineer: Néstor Diaz
Cover photo: Lisa Franz
Mastering: Christoph Stickel
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: November 6, 2020

Whereas many of us who once painted with fingers as a child moved on to brushes, Dino Saluzzi seems to have ignored that transition. On Albores, an album born of reckoning, Saluzzi renders what Luján Baudino in his liner note calls an “inner landscape.”

“Adiós Maestro Kancheli” opens on a somber note by paying respects to the late Georgian composer, who passed away in 2019. And yet, what we are given is more than a tribute or homage; rather, it is an identity without personhood, a force that animates the spirit of bygone days. Such redemptions of memory are as integral to Saluzzi’s language as sunlight and rain are to crops. The levels of introspection so organically achieved on “Ausencias” and “Íntimo” are what only decades of artistic experience could elicit. Such power of restraint, he reminds us, is foreign to our younger selves. It is the method of a heart that knows only the scrape of life’s cuneiform.

One need only bathe in the waters of “Don Caye” (an ode to his father’s music) to know that if the bandoneón were a film camera, Saluzzi would be one of its greatest living auteurs. “Écuyère” reorients the lens on a larger scale. Its prosaic qualities illuminate characters whose motives, while ancient, feel as familiar as our skins. The same holds for “Ficción,” a more jagged mountain carved by patience. Like “La Cruz del Sur (2da cadencia),” it rises among the very Andes in which it was born.

Hope is most apparent in “Según me cuenta la vida – Milonga,” a language seeking a mouth through which to be spoken. What dances in one moment turns during the next into a forlorn gaze toward a horizon that could have been. And yet, the trajectory that has brought him here feels inevitable. As in the closing “Ofrenda – Tocata,” it has always been inside, waiting to be sung.

Despite its generally slow pacing, there is plenty of verve to discover throughout Albores. Saluzzi’s energy floats just out of grasp so that we are always seeking its next steps. It is also a meditation on the lung capacity of the bandoneón itself. It breathes for those who no longer breathe. It breathes for those who have yet to breathe. It breathes for all who continue to breathe. Hints of light between its buttons are enough to remind us that even as the sun sets where we stand, elsewhere, it is dawn.

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