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Musician uses youth to his advantage
Christian Tamburr jazzes up his set with contemporary hits, too
Christian Tamburr plays the vibraphone as part of the Christian Tamburr Quartet during The Jazz Showcase in Chicago Ill., in 2006.


Listen as Christian Tamburr talks about how he got started on the vibraphone.

Christian Tamburr Quartet

When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Arts Council's Smithgall Arts Center, 301 Spring St., Gainesville
How much: $25
More info: 770-534-2787

Christian Tamburr is trying to spread the gospel of jazz to multiple generations, one concert at a time.

The multitalented musician — who specializes in the vibraphone but recently was touring as Julio Iglesias’ piano player — will be playing jazz standards when he comes into town this Saturday. But then he might throw in some music by contemporary artists such as Sarah McLachlan or Nirvana.

All in a jazz style, of course.

"We stay in the genre of straight-up jazz, and we also do a few of my originals, and that also changes things up," said Tamburr, who performs as part of his quartet for the next concert in the Evenings of Intimate Jazz series. "We do a real variety of music ... We try to really appeal to as wide a demographic as we possibly can, mainly because we’re all relatively young — most of the band is younger than 30 — so we try to keep this style of music alive."

Standing behind the vibraphone — an instrument that’s similar to a xylophone except it has metal bars instead of wooden ones and comes equipped with an oscillating fan to add to the vibrato sound — the 28-year-old Tamburr said he enjoys being able to sneak in new songs and, depending on the audience, see who reacts to what familiar tune.

The rest of the band includes piano, bass and drums.

"This is the first time we’re playing for (The Arts Council) and you really don’t know until you get there how much you can push that envelope," Tamburr said. "The beauty of jazz is when you hear the same song, it can be played differently ... with that we can kind of sneak in tunes, and (the audience) might not even know what tune it is unless there’s some 30-something or 20-something standing in the back going, ‘Is that, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"?’"

But as a member of a younger generation, Tamburr said he considers performing the music a torch he carries.

"I think whenever you see a younger group of musicians coming in, they’re giving life to the music again in a way that maybe it hasn’t been experienced or heard before," he said. "We pride ourselves in our arrangements of these tunes and being as tight a group as we can.

"This is a group that performs all the time and really has a lot of things worked out. It really is a well-oiled machine."

Prior to his current tour with his band, Tamburr has been on the road for the last 2 1/2 years with Julio Iglesias, playing keyboards on stage and serving as his music director.

He’s also worked for illusionists Penn and Teller in Las Vegas, where he wrote music for their live show, and is now under contract as music director with Cirque du Soleil for a new show opening next year.

"It’s all over the place, from magic to circuses to Latin guys," Tamburr said of his career.

But, he added, that’s a good thing.

Among his many projects he also guest lectures at colleges, and he said he tries to tell students to keep their talents varied, because you never know from where the next job is going to come.

"The key nowadays to working as a musician and staying busy is being as diverse as you can be," he said. "It’s very difficult to do one style of music; you can choose that road, which often is an uncertain road. If a tour calls up and they need Latin piano playing, you can go do that."