I first discovered Argentine bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi when he released his ensemble’s recording, Juan Condori. I instantly fell in love with Saluzzi’s composition which married musical instincts with compassionate poetics. This poetry wasn’t conveyed in words, but in the universal language music, with musical conversations reflecting on jazz and Argentine indigenous sensibilities. And actual words can barely convey the fragile moments, the nuances, and the sudden sweeping gestures present in Saluzzi’s compositions. He’s a musician that clearly wears his heart on his sleeve.
The next recording I heard and reviewed featured Saluzzi with German violoncellist Anja Lechner, Ojos Negros. The musical conversation sounded even more delicate and intimate, those haunting exchanges between the violoncello and the bandoneon, falling deeply into classical chamber music with a far-reaching effect. And now on Saluzzi’s live debut for ECM, El Encuentro, not only has Anja Lechner and Saluzzi’s brother Felix Saluzzi (saxophone) come on board, but so has the multidimensional Metropole Orchestra (Netherland) conducted by Jules Buckley. We shouldn’t be surprised however since all of these players could be called nothing short of musical adventurers exploring the territories where classical meets folkloric and jazz. All of these players are versed in working with jazz, classical and folkloric musicians and listeners can hear that energy on El Encuentro.
The four pieces with banks of strings holding a backdrop for violoncello, bandoneon and saxophone feel more dreamy than haunting. They feel hopeful and sweeping emotions that recall Rachmaninoff’s symphonic work and other late Romantic era symphonies float in and out of this dreamscape. Saluzzi who hails from Argentina, worked with the late Astor Piazzolla and other musical pioneer Gato Barbieri forges new musical territory here. You’d expect to hear tango pieces with the bandoneon leading the way, but with the exception of tango-like outbursts that occurs in the titular track, the bandoneon swims in the orchestral realm. You still hear a passionate longing. Also on the final track, Miserere some Piazzolla-like new tango passages appear. There’s still a sense of melancholy and a hint of something tragic, but the fragile sensibilities that hide in every note and every gesture transform this recording into a masterpiece.
I recommend this recording for people who spend the time to enjoy nuances in music, who support musical pioneers, and who take the time to listen to powerful music and ward off any distractions while doing so. El Encuentro doesn’t provide us with background music, but music that demands our attention. And there’s so much going on musically on this recording that you’ll want to pay close attention. Super sensitive listeners will especially enjoy El Encuentro and those with an innocent heart will fully comprehend this music.