Violinist James Anderson fell in love with the music of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) during studies at the University of Northern Colorado.
“His sounds are the perfect blend of everything,” says Anderson, who grew up playing classical, jazz, bluegrass and rock music.
“When I formed the Austin Piazzolla Quintet in 2009, I looked for musicians to join me who also love his music.”
GIG Performance Space hosts a performance by the Austin Piazzolla Quintet on April 21.
Anderson promises a little bit of everything in the show. “They’ll be works by Piazzolla and original music, much of it nuevo tango,” he explains. “Our pianist, Jonathan Geer, is a full time composer. I also write music. Speaking for myself, when I sit down to write a piece, I think about this group and each of the musicians. We’ve been together for 10 years and have found a sound that we’re good at.”
Joining Anderson and Geer on stage are Phil Spencer (bass), Mike Maddux (accordion, bandoneon) and Tony Rogers (cello).
The Austin Piazzolla Quintet released their first album, “Libertango” (2010), to rave reviews and sold out performances in Texas. The next album, “Lo Que Vendra” (2013), brought invitations to tour around the country.
At the beginning of 2015, the group spent two days at the Blue Rock Studio in the Texas Hill Country to record their third album with Grammy nominated engineer, Charlie Kramsky. “Angels & Devils,” their fourth album, was released in the spring of 2017.
In addition to presenting live shows and recordings, the Austin Piazzolla Quintet conducts clinics and master classes at universities and public schools with a focus on the performance techniques employed in tango, common compositional devices and the origins of the style.
“The most difficult aspect of this music, after its technical challenges, is that so little of it is actually on the page,” says Anderson. “Much like jazz, if you only play what’s on the page, it lacks the passion, personal emotion and sense of freedom which it absolutely needs.”