ERICH AVINGER was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 16, 1956 and moved to Houston, Texas at age four, where he grew up. His parents were both musicians, father Thomas a composer and mother JoAnn a singer and artist. Erich studied violin and sang as a boy soprano in his father's church choir, also singing the lead role in Menotti's opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors" at age eight.Surrounded from birth by the music of Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokifief and Shostakovitch, Erich was also introduced at an early age to Broadway show tunes and the jazz piano of Andre Previn and Bill Evans. At age twelve Erich taught himself to play guitar from recordings of Hendrix, Clapton, Beck and Allman, performing and writing in local rock, blues and psychedelic bands. He left home in 1969 to be involved with the higher conciousness and music scene at that time, but was picked up by the police and returned to school. In 1973 Erich was introduced to Brasilian composers Heitor Villa-Lobos, Egberto Gismonti and Tom Jobim through recordings brought from Brasil by a family friend, and began improvising on piano and nylon-string classical guitar. In 1976 he studied jazz guitar and piano, arranging and composition for a year at Morehead State University in Kentucky, afterwards traveling with rock bands before returning to pursue a career as a freelance rock, jazz and studio guitarist in Houston.
In the 80s Erich worked with big bands, the Houston Symphony Pops, Broadway roadshows, top 40, blues, rock, country, jazz and R&B organ groups, and played on numerous recording and jingle sessions at Huey Meaux's Sugarhill Studios as well as teaching jazz and rock guitar at several local colleges and prisons. Following this period Erich took a three year hiatus from performing music to study Eastern and Western Mysticism and Healing Arts before releasing his debut CD "Heart Magic" in 1989.
After the release of his second CD "Si" in 1990, Erich moved to Italy for a year where he performed in Verona, Florence and Rome. After his return to the U.S. Erich moved to Taos, New Mexico where he became immersed in Eastern philosophy and music, studying Raga, Indian rhythms and also
learning performance of the rare and exquisite sounding bansuri flute. Erich has performed and/or recorded at this time with Krisna Das, Jai Uttal, Phil Hollenbeck, and the group "Taos" which he also produced and engineered.
Erich began his return to the guitar and Western musical forms after moving back to Houston in 1995 and recording an inspired live show in Austin, Texas which was released, along with other tracks from New Mexico, as his third CD "Poets, Misfits, Beggars and Shamans" in 2000. During the years 1996 thru 2000 Erich also toured with jazz trumpeter Gary Gazaway (a.k.a. "El Buho"), playing with members of Phish,Walfredo Reyes Jr., and Victor Wooten. Currently Erich is living in Houston, Texas where he plays jazz gigs across the state and has recorded a live CD with jazz vocalist Kellye Gray
on which he is featured on his handmade archtop and 10 string classical guitars. Erich is developing material for a solo all-acoustic CD featuring his highly original improvisational approach to the classical guitar and combining Jazz, Brasilian and World Music influences.

Poets, Misfits, Beggars and Shamans

If, as said, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,"- pity the poor scribe who has only words to describe Erich Avinger’s guitar wizardry after being transported to an indescribable musical realm by his performances.

A beautiful dance of opposites has produced one extraordinary aural experience on guitarist/composer Erich Avinger’s latest - "Poets, Misfits, Beggars and Shamans." Like Yin and Yang, two distinct sides of the guitarist’s music have been captured in two very different locales by dissimilar recording approaches.

Four songs, recorded in a New Mexico mountain studio with percussion masters Phil Hollenbeck and Ray Dillard, layer acoustic guitars, flute, harmonica, violin and tamboura like beautifully colored, translucent sheets of glass on which an artist has interlaced swirls and filigree of color, dynamics and design, with an achingly expressive electric guitar as the paintbrush.

Four more songs were recorded live at Austin’s Elephant Room with electric guitar and bass, piano and drums. The beautiful melodies at the heart of each song evolve as they build in intensity to climax in exuberant jamming grooves where jazz, blues and rock styles lose their distinction and regain their joy.

Pianist Doug Hall’s Bill Evans-like sensitivity lends exquisite support to Avinger’s incredible range of expression. Bassist Steve Zirkel and John Treanor (percussion) are locked in perfect sympathy as Avinger leads the charge from breathless whispers into complex harmonies that soar into rocking crescendos blazing with inspired fretwork.

On hearing his earlier recordings, music writers packed glowing reviews of Avinger with references to immortals like Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman and Wes Montgomery – each an inspiration to the guitarist. Likewise, living guitar legends like Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck and Pat Metheny have been vital musical influences for this extraordinary musician. Classically trained, (his father is composer Thomas Avinger) Erich Avinger encountered Jimi Hendrix and John McLaughlin early on the musical trail that led to Miles Davis, Bill Evans and John Coltrane as Avinger melded the influences and revelations of these master improvisers into his own highly lyrical style.

Years as a session musician able to work in virtually any style with ease seems to have endowed Avinger with a sort of cumulative wisdom; as every influence, style and nuance seems to have flowed into him as knowledge and back out as music.

On first hearing, his music makes nearly everyone ask, in tones of wonder, "Who is that? His name is Erich Avinger,a
nd he makes music for the soul..

."An impressive instrumentalist. "

- Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes Magazine

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