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
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
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
1969 to be involved with the higher conciousness and music
scene at that time, but was picked up by the police and returned
In 1973 Erich was introduced to Brasilian composers Heitor
Villa-Lobos, Egberto Gismonti and Tom Jobim through recordings brought
by a family friend, and began improvising on piano and
nylon-string classical guitar. In 1976 he studied jazz guitar and
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.
Misfits, Beggars and Shamans
as said, "Writing
about music is like dancing about architecture,"- pity the poor
scribe who has only words to describe Erich Avingers 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 Avingers latest - "Poets, Misfits, Beggars
and Shamans." Like Yin and Yang, two distinct sides of the guitarists
music have been captured in two very different locales by dissimilar recording
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 Austins 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 Halls Bill Evans-like sensitivity lends exquisite support
to Avingers 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
On first hearing, his music makes nearly everyone ask, in tones
of wonder, "Who
is that? His name is Erich Avinger,and he makes
music for the soul..
impressive instrumentalist. "
- Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes