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Spotlights [Issue # 25 ]
Dino Saluzzi & Anja Lechner: Coming to America

By Dean Truitt

Famed Aregentinian bandoneonista, Dino Saluzzi, The 71-year-old South American cultural icon continues his prestigious work with ECM Records by releasing Ojos Negros, with German cellist, Anja Lechner. Saluzzi and Lechner’s work conjures ethereal beauty and wonderful melodic interplay. Ojos Negros comes out April 3 and will soon follow with American tour dates.

The bandoneon is a instrument similar to a concertina or accordion. Created in the 19th century by German inventor, Heinrich Band, the bandoneon is very popular in Argentina. Unlike the accordion, the instrument does not have keys resembling a piano, but buttons that produce different pitches when closing or opening the instrument.
ONE WAY spoke with Dino Saluzzi about the album and upcoming tour from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

How did you initially come to work with Anja Lechner?
We’ve been working together, I think, for six years. I met Anja at one of my solo concerts in Europe. We talked about having an experience with cello and bandoneon, which worked absolutely great because the sound and timbre of the instruments are really similar for the possibilities of working with each other. I started to think about how the idea would become a reality. So, then I went to work to compose [laughs].

Did you find it a challenge to compose for the instruments together?
I was starting to compose solo pieces, duet pieces, and trio pieces for a different kind of ensemble, but then I was feeling that cello and bandoneon is a good, good combination. So, I started to work on the project and my wish was to do more with this music. So, the wish to play this together was really strong. We were working with the Rosamunde Quartett, We did a concert and we had played as a duo [Saluzzi and Lechner] and we decided to try to make something with the [bandoneon and] cello, which is fantastic.

Are there any particular tracks on Ojos Negros that stand out to you?
I love all of them. I can’t say I prefer this one or another because all of them are like a confession, talking about some history of my life. I’m telling people about my life, or my brother’s, or how strong life can be for the musician who wants to remain a musician. I’m trying to show people the intimacy and we have two people on the big stage, but when these two people – not even the people, but these two instruments – it starts to be alive in the concert. This kind of intimacy makes us want to see what’s inside our souls. The music is like a big flower of harmony.

You have announced that you will be supporting Ojos Negros with a US leg of touring. How do American audiences react to the bandoneon, which is a relatively unknown instrument here?
Yes, I know. It’s a great challenge (laughs)! I think that this instrument is all over the world on all these big cities, like New York, Buenos Aires, Berlin. Many people live there, but don’t see each other in the “ojos” [eyes]. This instrument proposes to put our energy inside us. It makes us think back as we go to sleep and ask, “What did I do today? How did I use my life today?” One of the parts of my instrument is to conduct the intimacy to an inspirational source. This [need for self-reflection] happens a lot in the big city.

The bandoneon seems to be an extremely complex instrument. How difficult is it to learn how to play?
Technically, this instrument makes important harmonies like a minor third or a major third. This instrument is nice to play melodies and I don’t understand why they use it like a percussion instrument. This instrument is so difficult because we have four keyboards. There are two keyboards on the right and two keyboards on the left. And between the right and the left, we don’t have any chance to change the position because they [the other sides of the keyboard] are in different positions also. It’s a very demanding instrument with great tone and the sound is unbelievable. I’m looking forward to being there [touring the US] in April to have the possibility to play people our music and to get together for this very interesting experience. n

Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner
April 2007 US Tour

Wednesday April 18 Eugene, OR The Shedd
Thursday April 19 Los Angeles, CA Skirball Center
Sunday April 22      San Francisco, CA SFJAZZ, Florence Gould Theater
Tuesday April 24      New York, NY Merkin Concert Hall
Wednesday April 25      Miami, FL Carnival Center for the Performing Arts
Friday April 27       Columbus, OH Wexner Center
Saturday April 28       Buffalo, NY Allbright-Knox Gallery
Saturday May 28 Charleston, SC Spoleto Festival

ojos negros

Coming to America Dino Saluzzi & Anja Lechner ojos negros

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