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Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner: Ojos Negros

Dan McClenaghan By

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Call this music tango if you must—and the title track of the Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner set, Ojos Negros, is a tango tune from the pen of Vincente Greco. But this duet set, Saluzzi's bandoneon in a fluid, airy dance with Anja Lecher's cello, might better be categorized as "just music."

The two instruments, individually, make some of the most beautiful sounds. This marriage—the interplay and blending on this South American-European hybrid (if we must categorize)—elevates the proceedings to a level beyond the sum of the two parts.

The bandoneon—a type of celeste, imported from Germany to Argentina in the mid-19th century—is the foundation of the tango music that was popularized and taken from the streets to the concert halls by the late Astor Piazzolla. My own love affair with the sound began with Emilio Solla's Suite Piazzollana (Blue Moon, '02), with bandoneonist Juanjo Mosolini. That sound insisted that I take on a journey of exploration into of Piazzolla's music, leading to my discovery of Dino Saluzzi on Myriam Alter's marvelous If (Enja Records, '03). From there I found Saluzzi's Senderos (ECM, '05)—a duet disc with drummer Jon Christensen; and Juan Condori(ECM, '06), a (mostly) Saluzzi family quintet affair.

Saluzzi crafts a vibrantly malleable music, whether he is writing about an ox cart ("Carretas") or for his father ("Tango a Mi Padre") or immersing himself in a tune about "eyes that are like searchlights" ("Ojos Negros"). This light, sweet bandoneon intertwined with Lechner's burnished cello, has an exquisitely graceful, definition-defying beauty. It's reverent and introspective, breathing South American folk sounds tinctured with tango and the classical—and suffused with Dino Saluzzi's soul.

Track Listing: Tango a mi Padre; Minguito; Esquina; Duetto; Ojos Negros; El Titere; Carretas; Serenata.

Personnel: Dino Saluzzi: bandoneon; Anja Lechner: cello.

Title: Ojos Negros | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records

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