Arts & Entertainment

Northeast Westchester Rotarian Produces Grammy-Winning Album

Hector Del Curto, bandoneonist, Pablo Zielger and Claudio Ragazzi, guitarist. Credits: Pablo Ziegler

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-A member of the Northeast Westchester Rotary Club described feeling “thrilled to death” when a musician on his record label won a Grammy for best Latin jazz album last month.

ZOHO Music record-label founder and owner Jochen Becker, a longtime Rotarian, went with the Pablo Ziegler Trio to the 60th annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 28 where the group he produces, the Pablo Ziegler Trio, won in the category of best Latin jazz album for its “Jazz Tango.”

It’s the third Grammy Award for Becker on the ZOHO Music label; the first was with Ike Turner, who won a Grammy for best traditional blues album in 2007. The second was with Arturo O’Farrill, who won the Grammy for best Latin jazz album in 2008.

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Becker has been a member of the Northeast Westchester Rotary Club–which serves Somers, Katonah and North Salem–and the larger international Rotary organization in different states and countries since 1980.

Becker said Ziegler’s Grammy win is career-changing.

Ziegler has been nominated for several Latin Grammy Awards and won for best tango album in 2005, but this is his first win in the American Grammy Awards. 

“We flipped out, of course,” Becker said about being nominated and winning. “We stood on the stage together and waved to the crowds.”

Since then, Becker has been trying to meet the demands of all the new listeners interested in Ziegler’s album.
“His wife Masae Shiwa was telling me the phone started ringing off the hook and presenters want to bring him to jazz festivals,”

Becker said. “That’s had a significant impact on his career and I’m also feeling it at the record label. I got a phone call immediately from the distributor that Amazon had placed a much larger shipment [order] to meet the demand. We were delighted about that.”

Ziegler, who lives in Edgewater, N.J., began playing the piano, his grandmother’s, as a 2-year-old in Argentina. He said his mother noticed his talent and tried to enroll him in the music conservatory even before he was old enough to go.

It was at the Buenos Aires Music Conservatory in high school where a friend gave Ziegler a Duke Ellington recording and he fell in love with jazz. 

At the time, it was common for jazz musicians to hate tango music, Ziegler said. He saw tango as something for older people, but changed his mind when he heard tango grand maestro Astor Piazzollo, who he later worked with and who pushed him to compose music.

Ziegler’s Grammy-winning jazz trio features Hector Del Curto on the bandoneon and Claudio Ragazzi on the guitar. Ziegler said that to be in the category with other jazz artists is a huge win for the genre of tango jazz.

“It’s a new door. It’s incredible,” Ziegler said. “I hope to have more Grammys. I’m crossing my fingers, but for now, in this category, it’s incredible for me. It gives me more hope to compose more music of this type.”

His favorite tracks on “Jazz Tango” are “Buenos Aires Report” and “Milonga Del Adios.”

“I try not to think when I play; I just follow my instincts,” Ziegler said. 

Clearly that method works for him, as his instincts led him to music’s biggest night. 

Though he had been to the Latin Grammy Awards, Ziegler was overwhelmed at the American Grammy Awards. 
“It’s incredibly huge,” Ziegler said. “The American Grammys is the Oscars of the music world.”

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