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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The bandoneon is the instrument that defines Argentina's tango music. Since the mid-80's, Argentine bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi has been quietly building a musical legacy that transcends the genre.

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NORRIS: Critic Tom Terrell tells us more about the man, the music and the new CD "Ojos Negros."

Mr. TOM TERRELL (Music Critic): The bandoneon, like the accordion, is a squeezebox of sorts but much smaller and has buttons instead of piano keys. It came to Argentina from Germany. Now, these days, if you think of the sound of the tango, you're probably imagining the sound of the bandoneon in your head. And when Dino Saluzzi plays the bandoneon, he transforms the tango, from dance music to a more spiritual place.

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Mr. TERRELL: Dino Saluzzi was born and raised in the northern Argentine village of Campo Santo. He became a bandoneon prodigy when he was just nine years old. At the age of 20, Dino Saluzzi met the master of the bandoneon, Astor Piazzol;a. He became Piazzola's protege, his friend and his running partner.

Piazzolla went on to reinvent tango music. For Piazzola, it became a more artful music form. He took elements of jazz music and classical music. Saluzzi, on the other hand, took the tango way back home and put a more folk and bluesy sound to the tango. Saluzzi's sound seemed inspired by those bluesy Campo Santo lullabies his father would play for him as a child.

Saluzzi says that when he plays, he wants people to hear those beautiful souls and see the rivers and hills of his village.

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Mr. TERRELL: Dino Saluzzi's new "Ojos Negros" album is a series of sensual and spiritual duets with a German cellist, Anja Lechner. Lechner isn't Argentine or tanguera. She's a classical musician. But she and Saluzzi have a hell of a deep rapport.

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Mr. TERRELL: Her roles - soul mate and avatar, flamethrower and keeper of the flame - are the keys to the CD's absolute tangotivity. On "Carretas", Saluzzi and Lechner are one soul, one voice, one memory.

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Mr. TERRELL: At 72 years, Dino Saluzzi is tango's last bandoneon genius standing. The eight duets he and Anja Lechner recorded for "Ojos Negros" takes tango to places beyond even Piazzolla's reach. I own eight more Dino Saluzzi CDs, each one as iconoclastic and essential as "Ojos Negros."

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NORRIS: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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