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Pablo Ziegler

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 6, 2002
New York, NY
About the Author:


Pablo Ziegler


By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

8/6/02


Pablo Ziegler (see http://www.pabloziegler.com/, or email Music@PabloZiegler.com) is a world-renowned Jazz and Argentine Tango Pianist and Composer, who resides in Buenos Aires and New York City. Pablo Ziegler was the famed Astor Piazzolla's pianist for many years and is often seen performing at Carnegie Hall, Chamber and Jazz Festivals, and various nightclubs in New York and around the US, as well as throughout Europe and Latin America. As an Argentine Tango dancer, I have practiced and performed to Pablo Ziegler's music, chosen from his dynamic CD, Asfalto: Street Tango. I practice during my weekly, private Tango lessons with Carlos DeChey (Carlitos) (212.726.1304) at Fazil's Studio, 46th. - 47th Sts., 743 8th Ave., when we become unleashed tigers on Ginsana, with Decarisimo and Michelangelo 70, energizing our bodies and exciting our senses. On long drives out of town, I blast my Asfalto: Street Tango or Quintet for new tango CDs, through the sunroof of my turbojet Volvo, and the passion of Ziegler's music surrounds me and fills my soul. To see Ziegler perform in person, which I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing, at the Argentine Consulate, last fall, and at Joe's Pub, this past winter, is to extend the Jazz or Tango experience to an entirely new emotional, auditory, and totally somatic dimension. Pablo Ziegler is the subject of this inside perspective.

August 6, 2002, with Pablo Ziegler and Robert Abrams (Editor, ExploreDance.com), at Mamalinda, 344 West 52nd St., btw. 8th and 9th Ave., 212.582.0010. We dined in the bucolic Patio Garden, with Pablo Ziegler's music wafting through the sound system, surrounded by outdoor murals of Carlos Gardel and scenes of Buenos Aires and the Argentinean countryside.


Pablo Ziegler


REZ: When I dance to your music, my body fills with so much passion.

PZ: Passion is from the Tango side. I started very young to play the Tangos. My father helped me to understand Tango and classical music, when I was a little boy. My father was a violinist in a Tango band. I started to study at the Music Conservatory of Buenos Aires at the age of four and became a professor of classical music at the Conservatory at the age of fourteen.

Also, at this time, I started to learn to play piano jazz. I loved New Orleans style jazz, and my favorite pianist was Jelly Roll Morton. This man was one of the best New Orleans-style jazz artists. I began to play with a jazz band, and for four years, I arranged the tunes. I also loved contemporary jazz pianists, like Bill Evans.

REZ: I definitely hear the roots of jazz in your music. How did you meet Astor Piazzolla?

PZ: In 1978, before I had ever played in the professional world of Tango, I was playing with a jazz trio, with a fusion of jazz and classical music. Piazzolla had heard about my experience with this trio, during the 1970's, while he was playing in an electronic octet, with a fusion of rock and Tango. When he came back from France in 1978 on a Cargo Ship, he called me. He wanted to form a new Tango Quintet and gave me some music to play and read for 20 days. At the end of 20 days, we started rehearsals for a couple of weeks and then played every weekend for four months, in downtown Buenos Aires. This Quintet had an incredible reception in Europe. So, finally, Piazzolla could enjoy large concerts, where, before, he couldn't realize big tours.

REZ: What was Piazzolla's influence on your own compositions and on your relationship with your own musicians?

PZ: I try to dance, while I play. I love to put rhythm into the body. I teach all my musicians to dance with me, to play music for Tango rhythm. When we play, you can dance. It's a dance between five guys.

REZ: Do you meet some of the Tango performers, about whom we've been writing in ExploreDance.com?

PZ: I've been on many tours, recently, including Europe, Korea, and Argentina. We've met many Tango performers, including Milena Plebs, Miguel Soto, Osvaldo Soto, and Carolina Zokalski and Diego DiFalco. (See our Milena Plebs article and an upcoming article about Carolina and Diego).

REZ: Is there another CD you'd like to mention, and what current projects are inspiring you, now?

PZ: Four years ago, I recorded a CD, Tango Romance, with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. And, I just finished recording a CD with a trio in Bonn, Germany, Beethoven's home, to be released next year.

REZ: Which classical composers have most influenced you?

PZ: I like contemporary classical music, as well as ethnic music from Africa and Latin America. Piazzolla and Ravel were major influences on my musical compositions, especially Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, his Piano Concerto for Left Hand, and all his solo piano pieces. I also love Poulenc's chamber music, especially the sections for winds. I like Frank Martin's and John Adams' contemporary music, as well as Samuel Barber's Cello Concerto and string adagios.

REZ: There is a thread here of emotional influence in your music.

PZ: I love emotion in music. The emotion in my music came from my passion for our country. I try to communicate the Argentinean feeling. We are a passionate country. The Argentinean emotion is both dissonance and harmony. We are a big mix between Spanish and Italian people, all emotional guys. Everybody (in Argentina) is very hungry, as a result of the recent contention. So, we express that passion, which is one form of freedom. I am concerned and sad and have hope for the future of my country, my songs, and my friends.

In the meanwhile, we express emotion in our art and in our hopes. All these hopes will infiltrate our art. I try to be optimistic, and I express this optimism in my music.

REZ: Do you create and re-create?

PZ: I composed the first part of Milonga en el viento in one hour and the second part in one month. I work hard and use much oxygen.

REZ: About what are you thinking to generate the excitement in your music?

PZ: My Tango expresses my classical training and my collaboration with musicians, such as Piazzolla.

REZ: But, your music comes from your gut.

PZ: I try to bring music from my memories, my neighborhood, and my friends. I try to put images in my mind.

REZ: Tell me about Maria Ciudad.

PZ: This song is about my city (Santa Maria of Buenos Aires) and my daughter (Maria). It is so melancholy, because Buenos Aires is a melancholy city. This is a special song for me. It takes me through Tango neighborhoods from my past.

REZ: And Decarisimo?

PZ: Piazzolla, as a tribute to Julio De Caro, originally composed this. I transform Piazzolla to Ziegler.

REZ: Tell me about your choice of musicians, compared to Piazzolla's Quintet.

PZ: In my Quintet, I don't use a violin. I like new sounds, and the violin is so sad. I change the Tango sound. I change the violin to electric guitar, and put that guitar on top. I use percussion, drums, in my Quintet and Trio. Piazzolla did not use drums.

REZ: What do you want me to hear, when I listen to or dance to your music?

PZ: Especially in the last year, I try to relax and bring honesty from my memories: of Buenos Aires, my parents, and my friends. I am a perfectionist in the last year to be more and more honest. I don't use the rules too much. I try to express music. My recent composition, Below Zero, expresses all my hunger for my poor country. It's a very dark piece. It expresses a very dark emotion for my country.


Robert Abrams, Pablo Ziegler and Roberta Zlokower
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