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Astor Piazzolla at 100

Astor Piazzolla Performs At The North Sea Jazz Festival
Paul Bergen/Redferns
THE HAGUE, HOLLAND - JULY 12: Astor Piazzolla performs live on stage at The North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, Holland on July 12 1985 (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

Astor Piazzolla, born on March 11, 1921, wrote and performed some of the most affecting music of the 20th Century — rooted in the tango tradition but expanded and renewed by elements from European classical music, klezmer and jazz. As a result, what was once dance music in Buenos Aires has become, reimagined by Piazzolla, part of the repertoire of chamber groups and symphonic orchestras around the world.

That's Not Tango: Astor Piazzolla, a Life in Music is a "musical biography" written by Lesley Karsten and Stephen Wadsworth. The production features Karsten as Piazzolla, reminiscing on his life and music against live accompaniment by master musicians in the style: JP Jofre on bandoneón, Nick Danielson on violin, Brandt Frederiksen on piano and Pablo Aslan on bass.

Selections from "That's Not Tango: Astor Piazzolla a Life in Music" on WBGO

In 2019, before That's Not Tango was presented at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the ensemble paid a visit to Morning Jazz at WBGO. Karsten talked about the genesis of the production and the lasting beauty of Piazzolla's music — and we heard selections from the show, performed in our studio.