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Dino and Jose Saluzzi: Family Guys

By Published: June 2, 2008
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Composing Collaboratively

AAJ: Speaking of a subject related to this one, how do you compose? What kinds of things are you thinking about when you're composing?

DS: Always images—images, stories, lived moments. Creation is a mystery. You also can't forget that we live in an energetic world, that we also receive energetic influences.

AAJ: Do these images and stories arise during the composing process?

DS: In order to compose a fugue, first you have to have the subject. The subject shapes the form of everything that comes afterward—the subject shines through in every part of the piece. In free composition—which is more interesting from all points of view—the imagination goes farther. Sometimes you need a plan, although that depends on the size of the work.

If it's a small work, you can perceive it in the same way that you do the things that are on this table. For example, there's a glass, here's a telephone [Dino motions at the objects on the table]. Now, if this table where multiplied by five, you'd have to draw out plans in order to be able to have a certain sensation of the balance and the form that will structure the whole. This is a place where [a pre-determined compositional structure] helps you.

AAJ: And Jose, do you have the same experience with composing?

JS: No, because I have less experience. You don't always compose from knowledge, you compose from experience as well, and that's the beauty of learning from someone. That's what you can't learn in a school, unless...Stravinsky were giving classes—or Bartok. When Bartok was in the US, he gave composition classes; Schoenberg as well.

AAJ: When you compose, do you think of the specific musicians who will be playing the music?

DS: When we're rehearsing, we compose in the moment. Let's say I come into the rehearsal with an idea. We try to make it so that everything isn't subordinated to that one idea, that there are points of view and opinions that converge in the development of the idea. Sometimes we change things around during the rehearsal; we change in search of [a new idea]. Even if it's been done by someone else in another way, it's new for us because we're applying it in a different way and in a different context.

Because of that, I get bored when everything comes directly from my head. I don't have surprises for myself; I like it better when someone surprises me with [his own idea]. Once again, it's all about reconstruction. [Reconstruction] seems to me to be of fundamental importance to the music.

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Improvisation and Reconstruction

AAJ: And do your improvisations also have this ethic of reconstruction?

DS: Yes. We don't improvise only over the scales. Generally, we improvise in a particular way over the harmony and the melody. We don't improvise far away from the work, far from the piece or the passage. We play things that later appear improvised, but have a lot to do with the original melody. It's almost a deformation of the melody that appears as an improvisation because there is, as we would say, a reconstruction.

AAJ: And Jose, do you play in a similar way, or in a more traditional style of jazz improvisation?

JS: [Traditional jazz improvisations] are more harmonically based. What I do isn't the kind of typical jazz improvisation, it's more repetitive, it's more relative [to the melody].

I think that all music is improvisation, because all music has to do with creation. Listen, in academic music, you have real time and predetermined time. The difference between composition and improvisation is nothing more than that [composition] is a process or a filter, and that real improvisation has no filters. I think that this kind of thing exists in all kinds of music...

AAJ: Then Jose, when you say that all music is improvisation...

JS: I take it as a perception or a view. Improvisation is a perception; it's not a form through which you dump out everything.

DS: Because of that, we think that, as important as recordings are, they are attacks against creativity, against the surprise of the moment. When you're recording, the work is already dead. It'll be reborn when the person who recorded it plays it again live.

Recordings serve as a deposit of information, but in reality they are an attack against creativity. Music never happens in the same way as on a recording. Real music, music that naturally sounds from the instruments to the public, or whoever is listening, always enjoys a certain renovation.

AAJ: A month ago, I spoke with [Argentine guitarist] Quique Sinesi, and he said something that I thought was beautiful, that everyone is searching for something farther than the note. Is that true in your case?

DS: It's a way of searching inside yourself. I don't think that anyone makes music with the intention of demonstrating that he's the best. He does it because there's something inside of him that comes to the surface as a necessity. The same is true of Schoenberg's piece, "Transfigured Night." His intention wasn't to write something very complicated. There was something inside of him that surged forth in a certain way, a certain natural way.

AAJ: So, when you play music that has roots in jazz, tango, folkloric music, classic music, etc, it's something that arises during the process. It's not to demonstrate...

Jose Saluzzi Both Saluzzis: No, no, no!

JS: It's the result of a musical idea.

AAJ: And that's part of your identities?

DS: Certainly. It says that today there can still be an identity. I think that identity has a grave problem today, because the influence of information is destroying it. If one thing is certain for me, it's that music is implicit in all people. It's lying buried in all people. It's just that musicians are those that take it outside, because they know a way to give it body and form.

JS: If not, how would you explain why people get emotional when they listen to something?

DS: It's lying buried in all people. It has a region. If you're authentic and open to receiving influences from your surroundings, surely you'll express your surroundings. It doesn't have borders, because in that way of expressing things there can be an entire universe that still isn't known.

AAJ: So more than genres of music...

DS: Genres of humanity! Or maybe, genres of the individual. Why is something jazz music? [Take the case of Coltrane.] That's not jazz music, it's the music of Coltrane—he made it. Why ignore the individual?

When you're studying, you get a lot out of achieving personal freedom; it gives you your own thoughts. Not because you have something that's yours, but because it enriches everything that surrounds you. Not in order to feel that it's yours, but to enrich the context with the addition of a newly reconstructed piece. I'm enamored with the word "reconstruction" because that's how everything works.

Selected Discography

Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner, Ojos Negros (ECM, 2007)
Dino Saluzzi Group, Juan Condori (ECM, 2006)
Dino Saluzzi, Senderos (ECM, 2005)
Dino Saluzzi Trio, Responsorium (ECM, 2005)
Tomasz Stanko, From the Green Hill (ECM, 2000)
Dino Saluzzi Group, Mojotoro (ECM, 1991)
Dino Saluzzi, Andina (ECM, 1988)
Enrico Rava/Dino Saluzzi Quintet, Volver (ECM, 1986)
Dino Saluzzi, Kultrum (ECM, 1982)

Photo Credit
Juan Hitters

Antonio Baiano (wide photo of trio)

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