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Dino Saluzzi Group: El Valle de la Infancia

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On the occasions when Dino Saluzzi convenes his family group, as he did previously for 1992’s Mojotoro and 2006’s Juan Condori, the Argentinean bandoneon master, now 79, turns reflective. El Valle de la Infancia (translation: Valley Children) is placid and contemplative, a homespun conversation among folks who share a bond that can’t be broken. In that manner that defines so much of ECM’s output, it takes its time to unfold, one participant proposing a path, the others agreeing to pursue it or gently choosing another, all soon enough traveling alongside one another. As the music finds its way, Saluzzi’s compositions-most of them partitioned into several thematic suites-don’t so much take on added complexities (there’s nothing flashy to be found) but greater definition and nuance. They often feel like long sighs and deep breaths, punctuated every so often by a hearty laugh or a good cry.

The accordion-like bandoneon is most closely associated with tango music, but for this outing Saluzzi and his group-which includes son José María Saluzzi and Nicolás “Colacho” Brizuela on guitars, brother Félix “Cuchara” Saluzzi on tenor saxophone and clarinet, nephew Matías Saluzzi on basses and drummer Quintino Cinalli-eschew and transcend genre. The five-part “La Fiesta Popular” contains no section longer than 1:50 and one as brief as 0:25, but in that compacted time it tells a complete story.

“Pueblo,” three parts, is all evocative, impeccable introspection: guitars first, then the group, reveling. The back-to-back standalone pieces “A Mi Padre y a Mi Hijo” and “Churqui” are where the rhythm section shines brightest, albeit unobtrusively. There’s much to savor and take in on El Valle de la Infancia. But anyone who chose instead to simply lie back and let its joyfulness fill the air could hardly be blamed.

Originally Published