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Celebrating the Legacy of Argentine Composer Astor Piazzolla

Astor Piazzolla Performs At The North Sea Jazz Festival
Paul Bergen/Redferns
/
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.

In jazz radio, great announcers are distinguished by their ability to convey the spontaneity and passion of the music. Gary Walker is such an announcer, and his enthusiasm for this music greets WBGO listeners every morning. This winner of the 1996 Gavin Magazine Jazz Radio Personality of the Year award has hosted the morning show each weekday from 6:00 -10:00. And, by his own admission, he's truly having a great time.