A cousin of the concertina, the bandoneon is an instrument that immediately triggers associations with Argentine Tango music and of course with nuevo tango maestro Astor Piazzolla. But whereas Piazzolla was born on the coast and spent his early years between Buenos Aires, New York and Paris, Dino Saluzzi was born in the Andean foothills of the Salta Province in the North-Western part of the country. Consciously or not, Saluzzi’s music has always been rooted in Andean folk music or influenced by oral tradition and storytelling.

Likewise, his later collaborations and recordings with various American and European jazz musicians since his début for German label ECM in 1982, or his collaboration with German classical cellist Anja Lechner since the mid-1990s have definitely steered his tango-based music into a different direction.

Should the music still be called tango?  Saluzzi sidesteps the question: “Time spent trying to define the music is time taken away from playing it […] Does the music touch you or not? This is what matters.”  Steve Lake – liner notes for Ojos Negro (2007)

Dino Saluzzi, Anja Lechner & Felix Saluzzi - Navidad de los Andes (2011)
Dino Saluzzi, Anja Lechner & Felix Saluzzi – Navidad de los Andes (2011)

Saluzzi’s latest recording Navidad de Los Andes (2011) lies again at the intersection of folk music, classical chamber music and improvisational jazz. With Anja Lechner on cello and Dino Saluzzi’s brother Felix (saxophone) on some tracks, it features compositions from Saluzzi as well as variations on older tango themes.

“Gabriel Kondor” is a composition that was originally released on Dino Saluzzi’s début album Kultrum (1982) as a solo version. But this time, Anja Lechner’s cello magnificently accentuates the underlying Andean tone of the theme.