“Navidad de Los Andes” (Andean nativity) marks the birth of a new group, albeit one whose members share much history. Brothers Dino and Felix Saluzzi have more than 60 years of collaborations behind them and German cellist Anja Lechner has worked closely with Dino Saluzzi since the mid-1990s. As Saluzzi said at the time, “Anja has become part of the music without losing her own identity. I think this is very important. She doesn’t try to imitate the tango players. She has her own sound, and this makes our project together culturally richer.” Anja Lechner and clarinet and sax man Felix Saluzzi appeared as soloists on Dino’s orchestral recording “El Encuentro”, made in 2009 with Holland’s Metropole Orchestra under the direction of Jules Buckley. And both musicians were present again at a celebration of Dino’s music at the Atina Festival in Italy last year, where the cast on stage also included John Surman, Palle Mikkelborg, U.T. Gandhi and Ares Tavolazzi.
Dino Saluzzi has often thought of himself as a musical storyteller and in the pieces gathered here we may perceive sounds of birds in the mountain forests, or catch glimpses of dance halls and village churches. A lot of life is here. The three musicians have arrived at a very unique sound-blend, integrating bandoneon, cello, clarinet and saxophone in a chamber music format that breathes with the apparent effortlessness of folk music. Neither “jazz” nor “classical” nor tango in the strictest sense, temperamentally between the genres, Dino Saluzzi can hardly help but be ‘intercultural’, yet everything he touches is stamped with the force of his personality. “Navidad de Los Andes” features new compositions by Dino, as well as pieces freely adapted from his ‘formal’ concert music, and variations on music of some of the tango masters: José Padula (1893-1945), Carlos Gardel (1890-1935), Enrique Delfino (1895-1967). The trio make the journey through the music a most natural one, aided by the responsive acoustics of Lugano’s Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, the recital room that is one of ECM’s preferred locations.