This recording, from 1985, presents bandoneón master Dino Saluzzi in a small-group setting, accompanied by some of the finest musicians in the ECM roster: Palle Mikkelborg (trumpet and flugelhorn), Charlie Haden (bass) and Pierre Favre (percussion). As usual with ECM releases, the recording is crystalline - their audio standards have always set the highest standards for sound reproduction, clear and pristine. It puts the listener right into the room with the players.
All of the compositions on this album are by Saluzzi - but he never attempts to steal the show, respecting and indeed reveling in the contributions from his friends. Each one of them adds a bit of their individual soul to the mix - and the result is honest and beautiful music. Call it 'world' (for Saluzzi's themes and consciousness have their foundations in his homeland of Argentina), or call it 'jazz' (for its freedom and its embrace of the staggering improvisational abilities of the participants), or simply file it under 'ECM'.
There are times when the interplay between the two ends of Saluzzi's bandoneón and Mikkelborg's horn give the impression that there are more than two instruments at work - add to the mix the firm foundation (and melodic contributions) from Charlie Haden's exceptional bass work and the multi-faceted percussion of Pierre Favre and you have a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Some of Favre's contributions in particular will stretch your conception of the meaning of the word 'percussion'.
The melodies at play here are some of the loveliest I've ever heard - and some of the most emotional. At the heart of this music is the heart of the players - and the urge to share with the listener the feelings they hold within them is one for which we should be grateful. Saluzzi's bandoneón is more than just a glorified squeezebox - if you've never heard one, the depth of expression of which it's capable will cause you to reconsider whatever preconceived notions you might have about 'accordions'.
I haven't heard every recording Dino has released - but I've experienced quite a few of them, and I haven't been disappointed by a single one. I hold him in the highest regard, and I would buy anything new I found by him without any preview - I highly recommend giving his work a listen. This album is a great place to start - and his latest release (RESPONSORIUM, from 2002, with the great Palle Danielsson on bass and José Maria Saluzzi, Dino's son, on guitar) is one of my favorite albums of the last ten years. I was appalled to read a review calling his music 'mindless noodling' - it's anything but that. There's a whole range of emotion in his playing, along with superb musicianship, imagination and deep thought - he's a master.