Pianist/composer Antonio Flinta reveals his contemporary and classical influences

Pianist/composer Antonio Flinta has certainly made a memorable impression on his latest album La Noche Arrolladora. Instrumental records can either be technical accomplishments or emotional projects; this one walks the line between both. For those who aren't familiar with him, Flinta discussed his Latin American musical roots.

Q: What was your introduction to music? How old were you, and how did it affect you?

A: My first musical memories are of my mother playing classical guitar, maybe a Venezuelan waltz by Antonio Lauro, or something by Spanish composers Tárrega or Sor. After completing her piano studies, she studied guitar with Andrés Segovia, and actually, she always told me that she used to play guitar when she was pregnant with me. Now I think I could not have had a better introduction to music!

Q: Did you grow up in a musical environment?

A: I was born in Chile and we lived in Peru before settling in Madrid, so besides classical music there was also a lot of Latin American folk music at home.

Q: What styles of music had the greatest impact on you creatively?

A: When I was 13 or 14-years-old I bought my first record, it was an Art Tatum LP. I played it so many times that I consumed it completely, and for me jazz has been the most inspiring music since then. I also like very much some contemporary classical music, György Ligeti, Arvo Pärt, Steve Reich.

Q: What instruments do you play, and how did you learn?

A: I started to play piano probably because there was a piano at home and nobody pushed me to play it. I felt free to sit and learn by myself, to explore, to try to figure out what these great pianists I was listening to were doing. Later on, I went to a jazz school in Madrid, then in Rome, and then I won a scholarship to Berklee.

Q: What was the first song you ever wrote?

A: I remember writing things for homework, or chord sequences to play with, but the first complete composition I recall is a song I wrote for my girlfriend. That girlfriend is now my wife for 20 years so I must say it was a lucky song!

Q: How would you describe your music?

A: I like melody very much and to explore new places, but most of all I look for compositions that stimulate the interplay between musicians. Sometimes there are phrases repeated like a mantra while someone improvises; some other times there is a sum of contrasting elements that result in a marvelous disorder, and you are playing and you don't know what is going to happen next. That is just fantastic.

Q: What artists influenced you the most growing up?

A: Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and then Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter. All these great musicians have had a great influence on me. Their musicianship, their soulfulness, their creativity, and their joy of making music are my main inspiration.

Q: How have you evolved creatively?

A: I am very curious, not only about music, but about other art forms, about places and people. I like to explore, to discover things, and this is what I try to do with my music, make this adventurous journey and try to express the infinite qualities of feelings that life can give us.