Born Timoteo "Dino" Saluzzi in 1935 in Campo Santo, Argentina. Addresses: Record company-ECM Records/BMG Classics, 1540 Broadway, 40th floor, New York, NY 10036.
Master bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi plays jazz on a traditional tango instrument, composing atmospheric pieces of great beauty, complexity, joy, and passion. The bandoneon, closely associated with tango music, is an instrument with a tonal and octave range as broad and colorful as the guitar, and Saluzzi is perceived as the musician who freed the tango from its fixed structure, often drawing from his bandoneon the harmonic qualities of a cathedral pipe organ.
Created in Germany in the 1840s and used by Italian musicians and other European immigrants to South America to play songs in Spanish, Fernando Gonzalez of The Herald wrote the bandoneon is, "a bittersweet sounding button squeezebox ... a sort of portable, poor man's church organ--only to improbably become the quintessential instrument of tango in the (bordellos) of Buenos Aires in the early 1900s." It was of Saluzzi's mastery of the instrument that DownBeat's Dan Ouellette wrote, "Saluzzi commands attentive listening with a collection of pieces that strike deep emotional chords ... (he) wends his way into a reflective and celebrative musical landscape informed by jazz, classical, nuevo tango and South American folk music influences."
Timoteo "Dino" Saluzzi was born in 1935 in Campo Santo, a small village in the northwest Salta district of Argentina. Life in Campo Santo revolved primarily around the local sugar cane refining factory, and despite the lack of records, radio, and even electricity in Saluzzi's home, there was always music. His father played the guitar, mandolin, and bandoneon, and taught Saluzzi how to play the latter instrument when he was seven years old. Saluzzi played folk music on the bandoneon until an uncle who had traveled in Europe taught him to expand his repertoire. By the age of fourteen, Saluzzi had mastered the instrument enough to play in his first band, the Trio Carnavel. He studied music in Buenos Aires and began to play professionally, becoming a member of the symphonic Orquesta Estable at Radio El Mundo, Argentina's first radio station.
While in Buenos Aires, Saluzzi met Astor Piazolla, the name most readily associated with traditional tango bandoneon music, at a time when the term "tango nuevo" was first coined. The two artists respected each other but Saluzzi's approach to the instrument differed in that his music was a fusion of jazz and bandoneon, while maestro Piazolla was firmly ensconced in traditional tango music. Saluzzi refrained from placing a label on his approach to the instrument, preferring to express the widest range of emotion on his instrument as possible. He quit his radio orchestra job in 1956, at the age of twenty-one, and returned to the district of Salta to develop compositions and to incorporate elements of folk music. His music, from the very beginning of his career, never fell into an easily classified form of Latin American music. Although he didn't set out to be unconventional, Saluzzi's compositions have always been vital, eclectic, and more all-encompassing than traditional tango music.
Saluzzi went on to collaborate with Gato Barbieri on the saxophonist's Chapter One: Latin America release in the early 1970s, and he undertook numerous South American tours with Mariano Mores, playing concerts in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. Saluzzi also worked as an arranger and soloist for Enrique Mario Francini's Sinfonica de Tango, which took him to Japan in 1977. Two years later, in 1979, he created his first quartet, Cuarteto Dino Saluzzi, which was well-received in Europe. Saluzzi also co-founded the experimental chamber ensemble Musica Creativa.
Audio Sketches of Village Life
Saluzzi released the solo album Kultrum in 1983, an album of "storytelling" that was created spontaneously in the studio. The album was an imaginary and remarkably vivid return to the small towns and villages of his youth. In Kultrum, Saluzzi reworked elements of South American Indian music, tango, backwater folk tunes, and other musical influences from his childhood. From the early 1980s onward, Saluzzi collaborated with numerous American and European jazz musicians, including bassist Charlie Haden, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, and percussionist Pierre Favre for Once Upon A Time...Far Away in the South, released in 1986, and trumpeter Enrico Rava for Volver in 1988.
His second solo album, Andina, was released in 1988, and further displayed his unique compositions and musical ability. Saluzzi also played with Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra and with the Rava/Saluzzi Quintet, which toured extensively. Saluzzi has performed with scores of distinguished musicians over the years, most notably Louis Sclavis, Edward Vesala, Charlie Mariano, Al DiMeola, David Friedman, and Anthony Cox. With all these musicians, Saluzzi succeeds in blending his distinct sound into the mix to create a rich, fulfilling sound. In discussing the album Rios, a writer for Vintage Guitar magazine said, "(Saluzzi is teamed) with bassist Anthony Cox and marimba and vibraphonist David Friedman. The music is joyous and full of life, a celebratory dialogue between the deep, sad sound of the bandoneon and the happy, rippling tones of the vibraphone. The trio complements each other perfectly."
A Family Affair
In 1991, Saluzzi realized a personal dream by recording Mojotoro in Argentina with his brothers Felix and Celso and his son Jos'e on drums. Mojotoro was astounding in that it drew upon the full range of South American music: tango, folk, candina music, candombe, and the milonga music of the la Pampa providence. After the release of Mojotoro, the Saluzzi family became a popular institution of the European touring circuit. Saluzzi's son Jos'e began his music studies at the age of six, and plays piano, drums, percussion, and the guitar.
Saluzzi released Cit'e de la Musique in 1997, featuring his brothers, son, and American bassist Marc Johnson--who had played with John Abercrombie, Bill Evans, and Ralph Towner. Ouellette wrote, "It's the elder Saluzzi's intuitive genius for playing with impeccable integrity of emotion that recommends Cit'e de la Musique, which should be required listening for lite jazz cats aspiring to break through superficialities and play truly enrapturing music."
Saluzzi dedicated a new composition, "Gorri'on," on Cit'e de la Musique to French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. It was a solo tribute, and Richard Henderson of Escape magazine declared, "Saluzzi's new album could easily function as an alternative soundtrack to Godard's Alphaville, or to any film noir for that matter. The nine selections on Cit'e de la Musique are haunting, shadowy, and intimate..." Saluzzi's compositions move deliberately yet tentatively through the mournfulness and joy of life, capturing emotion in music and orchestrating the wonder of the human experience. Saluzzi plans to collaborate on an album with the classical chamber musicians Rosamunde Quartet and, toward that end, played with the group in a series of lauded concerts in the string quartet's hometown of Munich.
by B. Kimberly Taylor
Dino Saluzzi's Career
Father played the guitar, mandolin, and bandoneon, and taught Saluzzi how to play the bandoneon when he was seven years old; played in his first band, the Trio Carnavel, at the age of fourteen; studied music in Buenos Aires and began to play professionally while there: became a member of the symphonic Orquesta Estable at Radio El Mundo, Argentina's first radio station; quit his radio orchestra job in 1956, and returned to the district of Salta to develop compositions and to incorporate elements of folk music; collaborated with Gato Barbieri on Chapter One: Latin America release in the early 1970s; undertook numerous South American tours with Mariano Mores; worked as an arranger and soloist for Enrique Mario Francini's Sinfonica de Tango; created his first quartet, Cuarteto Dino Saluzzi, in 1979; co-founded the experimental chamber ensemble Musica Creativa; released the solo album Kultrum, 1983; released Cit'e de la Musique in 1997, featuring his brothers, son, and American bassist Marc Johnson.
- Selected discography
- Kultrum , ECM, 1983.
- (with others) Once Upon a Time--Far Away in the South , ECM, 1986.
- Andina , ECM, 1988.
- (with others) Volver , ECM, 1988.
- Mojotoro , ECM, 1991.
- (with others) Rios , Intuition, 1997.
- Cit'e de la Musique , ECM, 1997.
- Down Beat, November 1997.
- Escape, October 1997.
- The Herald, June 13, 1997.
- Vintage Guitar Magazine, July 1997.
- Microsoft's Musiccentral.msn.com
- Additional material for this profile was provided by ECM Records/BMG Classics.