The marriage between jazz and tango was virtually unheard of 30 years ago — until pianist Pablo Ziegler burst onto the music scene, seamlessly combining the sultry tango rhythms with the energetic spontaneity of jazz.
At 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, the Pablo Ziegler Quintet for New Tango — joined by special guest Claudia Acuña — will present a special one-night-only concert as part of the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ziegler began performing classical repertoire at 14 but was also influenced by bebop, dixieland and tango, with which he became acquainted through his father, a violinist.
In the 1960s, he formed the Pablo Ziegler Trio, which performed jazz arrangements of classical music, but in 1978, Ziegler joined Astor Piazzolla’s famous New Tango Quintet. Over the next 10 years, he would perform throughout Europe, Japan and North America, until Piazzolla’s failing health forced the group to disband.
In 1990, Ziegler launched his own Quartet for New Tango. The group blended classic tango rhythms with jazz improvisations — something that previously had not been part of the tango lexicon. In 1991, Ziegler’s Quartet released its debut album, “La Conexion Porteña,” and Ziegler also recorded Piazzolla’s works with the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1994, Ziegler expanded the group into a quintet, which has since toured extensively worldwide.
Acuña was born in Santiago, Chile, and raised in Concepcion, where her early influences included Chilean music pioneers Violeta Parra and Victor Jara as well as American singers Frank Sinatra, Erroll Garner and Sarah Vaughan. In 1991, she returned to Santiago and made a name for herself on the local jazz scene, sitting in with visiting musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Michel Petrucciani, Joe Lovano and Danilo Perez.
In 1995, Acuña moved to New York City and became a fixture at local jam sessions, performing with pianist Harry Whitaker, guitarist Ron Affif and pianist Jason Lindner, who remains her closest collaborator.
In 2000, she released her acclaimed debut, “Wind from the South,” followed by “Rhythm of Life” (2002) and “Luna” (2004). Acuña has recorded, toured and performed with artists such as Tom Harrell, Billy Childs and George Benson.
In addition to her music, Acuña currently serves as a spokeswoman for World Vision Chile, an international relief and development organization.
Tickets, available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets, are $30 each; $25 for seniors and Washington University faculty and staff; and $18 for students and children. For more information, call 935-6543 or email Edison@wustl.edu.