Dino Saluzzi / Anja Lechner / Felix Saluzzi: Navidad de los Andes (2011)
Contrasting El Encuentro's larger sonic palette with The Netherlands' Metropole Orchestra, Navidad de los Andes returns to Ojos Negros' more intimate environs and an equally elemental set of material, almost exclusively composed by Saluzzi. While not suggesting there isn't detailed writing at play, Saluzzi relies more completely on the trio's intrinsic chemistry and shared language, and the glorious combined timbre of this uniquely well-matched set of instruments; the combination of air-driven reeds and bowed strings creating a wondrous single voice, while bandoneon and saxophone conjoin for as seamless a marriage here as Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim did with accordionist Frode Haltli on Yeraz (ECM, 2008).
With Felix loosely representing the folk and jazz traditions and Lechner a more classical frame of reference, bandoneonist Dino has formed a perfect trifecta, pushing and pulling what is, at times, an equilateral triangle, at other times, one far more weighted towards specific concernsand, at times, within the confines of a single composition. "Gabriel Kondor" begins unequivocally in folklore, with Saluzzi's bandoneon alone evoking its cinematic imagery of a small town at the foot of the Andes, but when Lechner enters, the rich tonality of her cello somehow moves the image somewhere less rural. Elsewhere, the medley of Saluzzi's "Candor" with "Soledad," written by singer/songwriter/actor Carlos Gardela prominent figure in the history of the tangowears its heart more decidedly on its sleeve, with Felix's tenor saxophone a mellifluous counterpoint to his brother's unerring sensitivity, while Lechner's quiet sound of fluttering wings and gentle whistles begins "Flora De Tuna" in gentle stasis, its stronger melody gradually culminating in a delicate intertwining of clarinet, cello and bandoneon, ebbing and flowing like a slow journey through a sub-Andean forest.
As Saluzzi and his partners blur the line between form and freedom, Navidad de los Andes' cinematic narrative unveils over the course of an hour, moving from a heightened sense of perception to places where the barest of whispers bears greater import. Astor Piazzolla popularized the bandoneon and brought tango into a modern age, but it's Saluzzi who's given the broader Argentinean tradition a more expansive stylistic purview; only when drawing together his entire ECM discography, beginning with 1983's solo Kultrum, is his importance fully revealed. A significant signpost along the way, Navidad de los Andes is another compelling addition to the septuagenarian bandoneonist's still unfolding oeuvre.
Track Listing: Flora de tuna; Sucesos; Fragments; Son qo'ñati; Requerdos de Bohemia; Gabriel Kondor; El vals de nosotros; Candor/Soledad; Variaiones sobre una melodía popular de Jose L. Padula; Ronda de niños en la montaña; Otoño.
Personnel: Dino Saluzzi: bandoneon; Anja Lechner: violoncello; Felix Saluzzi: tenor saxophone, clarinet.
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Modern Jazz