The Austin Piazzolla Quintet specializes in the music of the late Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla as well as original nuevo tango compositions. Founded by James Anderson (violin), the APQ has been performing to captivated audiences since 2009. With Jonathan Geer (piano), Ben Thomas (bandoneon), Tony Rogers (cello), and Phil Spencer (bass), all from diverse musical backgrounds, the band continues the tradition of nuevo tango through intense live shows which feature unique arrangements of Piazzolla’s groundbreaking works, breathtaking original compositions, and fiery improvisation.
APQ released their first album, Libertango (2010), to rave reviews and sold out performances in Texas including a spot on the main stage at the Houston International Festival. The following album, Lo Que Vendra (2013) allowed APQ the opportunity to begin touring and performing in some of the finest listening rooms, jazz clubs, and performance halls in the nation.
In addition to live shows and recordings, APQ has taken an active role in music education having conducted clinics and masterclasses 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 it’s technical challenges, is that so little of it is actually on the page,” begins 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.” In the Fall of 2014, APQ presented Piazzolla’s favorite and final large scale work for his own quintet, the rare La Camorra to critical acclaim in Austin, TX.
At the beginning of 2015, APQ spent two days at the Blue Rock Studio in the Texas Hill Country to record their third album with Grammy nominated engineer, Charlie Kramsky. Released in the spring of that year, the self-titled album features original compositions by Anderson and Geer set along side Piazzolla’s up-tempo Michelangelo 70, the heavy weight of Soledad, musical portrait Retrato de Milton, and the bass showpiece Kicho.
In the spring of 2016, APQ was invited by the world renown Colorado Ballet to perform the world premier of The Angel of Buenos Aires. Weaving classical ballet and sultry tango steps, the work, choreographed by Lorita Travaglia, features stunning movements based on the titular characters of two of Piazzolla’s most loved suites of music – Suite del Angel and Suite del Diablo. The success of the debut fueled the inspiration for APQ’s next studio recording, and by the summer of 2016 the group was back in the studio with Charlie Kramsky once again at the sound board. Angels & Devils, the groups fourth album, was released in the spring of 2017 and features the Suite del Angel and the Suite del Diablo alongside two riveting originals from violinist Anderson, the baroque inspired Milonga Passacaglia and But a Whimper.