music-o-mat,  Tribute

The Avinger Projects

Guitarist Erich Avinger and I met on a Kellye Gray gig in the late 1980s and have been playing together ever since. In recent years, we both worked with HSO violinist Ferenc Illenyi on a gypsy music project that led to festival performances and a record deal. It’s been amazing to watch how consistent and fearless Erich is in high pressure performance situations, a large reason why Ferenc enlisted him as his musical director on this project. For this reason and many others, he’s earned the nickname The Avenger, a marvelous musician, arranger, producer and friend.

Here are a collection of recordings that I’ve been a part of with Erich. It’s but a peek into an illustrious career that includes three major label releases as a leader along with numerous appearances as a sideman and producer (oh yeah, he’s one heck of an engineer too). A full discography is available on his website.

“Presence of Another,” Live at The Fainting Goat Podcast, 2004. Erich Avinger, composer/guitar.

This first track dates back to when my wife and I ran a jazz cafe in rural Texas. Part of our approach for this venue was to offer a podcast of shows for those who couldn’t make it out. Erich was one of our first performers and an early member of that podcast community. Here’s one of his tracks from that era.


“Unsaid,” The Coastal Project, 2013. Andrew Lienhard, piano/composer; Erich Avinger, guitar.

This is a tune of mine from my guitar duets album. It’s a tricky one, mostly because of the insane changes. But Erich rose to the occasion perfectly.


“Birds of Santa Maria,” Gypsy Dreams, 2012. Erich Avinger, guitar/ composer; Ferenc Illenyi, violin; Chris Maresh, bass; Andrew Lienhard, piano.

A barn-burner from one of the most complex projects I’ve ever been apart of, the 2012 Gypsy Dreams album. Erich wrote this piece and if I’m being honest, it was not a one take recording! The piano part was simply brutal. But I love this composition and the playing all around is great.


“Book of Faces,” Soul of a City, 2009. Erich Avinger, guitar; Ferenc Illenyi, violin; John Duboise, clarinet; Andrew Lienhard, piano/composer.

I often recruited Erich to help me do the music for the annual Engines of Our Ingenuity compilation CDs that KUHF offered to subscribers. Here are two tracks from the 2009 Soul of a City album. The name “Book of Faces,” is of course aimed at the social media platform. I had just broken up with Facebook and wrote this in a few minutes while Erich and Ferenc were in between takes. They played it perfectly.


Electrosets,” Structures, 2011. Erich Avinger, guitar; Andrew Lienhard, keyboard/composer.

This was an audio cue for a later Engines CD titled Structures. The title refers to the topic of the track. I always thought this piece should be developed into something longer, but it never happened.


Journeys,” Soul of a City, 2009. Erich Avinger, guitar; Andrew Lienhard, keyboard/composer.

I first recorded this track on a keyboard using an acoustic guitar patch (the intro). I then asked Erich to overdub a real guitar part for the melody and fills. It’s an odd little vamp in 7/4 that I still enjoy hearing, mostly because of what Erich added to it.


Lucid,” The Coastal Project, 2013. Andrew Lienhard, piano/composer; Erich Avinger, guitar.

This is a tune I wrote after going to a HS friend’s funeral. So, you know, it’s slow and sad. No solos, just one time through a very long melody. Check out Avinger’s tone throughout. Gorgeous!


What’s now from looking back at these tracks is that we’re seriously overdue for more music. Working on that.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.