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Avo Uvezian

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Avo_Uvezian&chld=H_100&junk=junk.png Avo Uvezian Mars symbol.svg
Birthplace Beirut
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Birth date 1926
Death place Orlando
Death date 2017/03/24
Death year 2017
Profession Musician, Businessman
Ethnicities Armenian
Dialects Western Armenian, Persian Armenian
Spouses Nivia
Children Robert Uvezian, Jeffrey Uvezian, Ronnie Uvezian, Karyn Uvezian

Armenian Cigar Maker in the Dominican Republic.

"There are people who call me a cigar guru, but I'm no guru. I'm not a great man in the cigar world, as Zino Davidoff was. There is no longer anyone like him."

Avo Uvezian loves understatement and leans back with an AVO cigar between his forefinger and middle finger.

Nevertheless, Avo Uvezian and Zino Davidoff are similar in many respects...

Avo Uvezian was born in 1926, the son of a family of musicians in Beirut.

His father was a composer and conductor of a symphony orchestra, his mother a gifted singer.

The talented young pianist's dream was a great career as a musician. Talent and commitment, which still distinguish him today, soon brought him success.

After he had travelled the Near East as a teenager with his jazz trio "Lebanon Boys", he also had great success in the Middle East. The contacts which he made there led the young jazz pianist to the USA in 1947.

In New York Avo studied classical piano and composition at the famous Julliard School of Music. During his studies Uvezian played in various bands with great success. The Korean war interrupted his career, as he served with the US Army as a musician until 1953.

After that Avo played with the great jazz musicians of the 50s and 60s. Avo Uvezian's dream had come true - he had established his career as a musician.

The polyglot businessman and jazz musician went to Puerto Rico and in the early 80s opened a restaurant and piano bar.

In Puerto Rico Avo discovered his love for cigars – they were to become his great passion.

As a perfectionist par excellence he very soon had his own AVO brand rolled and gave this away to his guests, who increasingly demanded his cigars. The road from connoisseur to cigar composer was but a short one.

So the musician and composer set out to look for a virtuoso of the cigar who could bring his creations to life in the form of cigars. In about 1982 he met the master cigar producer Hendrik Kelner in the Dominican Republic and by 1988 the first AVO had been sold in New York. Two passionate aficionados had found each other and the synthesis could have only one result: cigars in perfect harmony.

Hendrik Kelner and Avo Uvezian had started with 100,000 cigars in the first year, and in the third the number had already risen to 750,000. Today each year three million cigars bearing the name of the jazz pianist are enjoyed by aficionados all over the world.

Also in his second career, the world of premium cigars, his striving for perfect harmony has brought him great success.

Avo Uvezian, 91, Dies

By Gregory Mottola

Posted March 24, 2017

The man in the white Brioni suit has passed away. Cigar icon and jazz musician Avo Uvezian died today at age 91 at his home in Orlando, Florida, just two days after his birthday.

Known in the cigar industry for his Avo brands and his sharp sense of style, Uvezian was long a vivacious part of the cigar industry, touring in support of his cigars even at 90 years old. A showman and cigar lover, it wasn't uncommon to see Uvezian play piano at a cigar event while puffing on one of his cigars and waxing poetic about the joys of smoking.

Uvezian first came into cigar prominence when the Avo line was born in 1987, but his cigar story started long before that.

Born in 1926 in Beirut, Lebanon, Uvezian formed a musical group called the Liban Boys in 1945 right after the end of World War II. They managed to get a contract playing in a hotel in Baghdad, where the group lasted a year before moving on to a hotel in Tehran. Uvezian quickly made a name for himself as a pianist and eventually received an invitation from Shah Reza Pahlevi, at the time the leader of Iran, to play at his palace. Uvezian stayed in Tehran for a year, and made such an impression on the Shah that he recommended that Uvezian go to America, and personally paid for his trip.

Uvezian arrived in New York City in 1947, playing in various bands while studying at Juilliard. After two years in the U.S. Army, he eventually found himself in Puerto Rico in the jewelry business. But music called him back, and by 1974 he was playing piano at the Palmas del Mar resort. During this time he made a crucial observation: people not only came to hear his music, but they also liked smoking cigars. Uvezian would purchase a few local cigars each night and place them on top of the piano for anyone who wanted to smoke.

"Customers and friends used to write me and ask me for the cigars," Uvezian told Cigar Aficionado in an interview. "That's when I said to myself that I better look at getting serious about this."

Uvezian was introduced to Davidoff's cigarmaker Hendrik "Henke" Kelner, and in 1987, his first cigars from Kelner were sold under the Bolero label in San Juan. Shortly after, he changed the cigar name to Avo and debuted them in New York City. The brand was created exclusively for the Davidoff shop.

Uvezian launched Avo across the U.S. in 1988, and in 1995, Davidoff purchased the distribution rights for the brand. In 10 years, Uvezian saw his brand grow from about 5,000 cigars in 1987 to about 3.2 million in 1997.

"He's like family," said Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigar in Orlando. "He was family. He's the godfather of my kids. He brought charisma and charm to the industry and people were attracted to him. He had the kind of magnetism I'd never seen. Avo spoke so many languages and had such an international life. He was incredible."

Since the early-2000s, Uvezian has celebrated his birthday with a special, limited-edition cigar and a cigar party as well as a national tour. Though tour dates decreased as he got a little older, he usually made time for New York. Last year, Uvezian made an appearance in Manhattan for his 90th birthday.

"People always ask me, ‘Avo, what's your secret?' " Uvezian said at the time. "And I tell them that every time you smoke cigars, you have given yourself another day of life. I think I'm going to be doing this until I'm 99 years old. That way, when I get to 99, I'll say, ‘Well, I might as well go to 100.' "

He almost made it.

Avo Uvezian is survived by his wife, Nivia, his sons Robert, Jeffrey and Ronnie, and his daughter Karyn.

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