Member Spotlight: Samuel Quinto – The Master of Latin Jazz

Interview by Tanya Levy (MGBH)
With this issue of Piano Performer Magazine, we are starting a new section featuring members of American Council of Piano Performers (ACPP).  ACPP is a non-profit professional membership organization for US and International piano professionals based out of Beverly Hills, CA.  The Piano Performer Magazine is the latest project of ACPP.  
Mr. Samuel Quinto is the first International ACPP member to be featured in this magazine.
PPM: You left college where you pursued a degree in civil engineering to follow your musical dream. What was that “Aha!” moment when you realized “It’s either now or never”?
SQ: When I was twenty-four, my sister put my name on the list at the college. I had to take a test to get in, and I passed. So, in January, I started my studies, but I never liked it. I didn’t enjoy engineering, but I did, however, enjoy playing music. In Salvador, we don’t have too many places to play piano. So that’s why I went to school—it wasn’t because I liked it, it was more to fit in.
Wanting for me to have a stable career, my family pushed me towards engineering, but the pull of music was too great. Then I received an invitation. I left my schooling to perform as a pianist nightly at The Marriott Hotel in Bahia. I focused on my music with a passion, studying Brazilian piano greats such as Cesar Camargo Mariano (MGBH) and Amilton Godoy (MGBH).
PPM:What was it like producing your first CD? Please, share your experience with our readers.
SQ: It was wonderful and very intense. I lived in Portugal for three years. Every morning I taught jazz piano at a school. In the afternoon I worked as a pianist in a ballet company and the night played in hotels, casinos, and pubs. A good friend of mine, a drummer named Gil (MGBH) gave me the suggestion to form a trio with a friend bass player named Alexandre Silva. I thought this idea was wonderful because my mind would simmer with wonderful thoughts and new ideas every day. As there was no specific job Latin Jazz in Portugal until then, we decided to go this way. Alexandre wasn’t able to follow up on it so we invited Edamir Costa who kindly accepted our invitation. We decided to record a demo CD, which contained 4 pieces to get a record label. The Numérica label suggested that the trio should record new material as well as other previously recorded tracks. Latin Jazz Thrill was released in 2007.
PPM: Many pianists/musicians seem to have a goal to make it big vs. finding pleasure in sharing their talent with the audience organically available to them. Why do you think that is?
SQ: I feel that anything that is not measured cannot be managed. All projects should be measure by appropriate indicators according your project evolution. You may love to make music regardless of the number of people in the audience. This shows that a project was done for career development and you need to maintain an attitude of balance and a certain strategic flexibility.
PPM: In your experience, what is the ratio of personality vs. talent as a factor of career success?
SQ: No doubt the personality far exceeds the talent. There are many talented artists who are unknown and they seem very well accommodated in this situation. What will boost your career is strong willpower. Remember that in adversity you have found strength that will carry you far in your career.
PPM: What is your professional goal?
SQ: I’m always looking for great challenges. Earlier this year my father was hospitalized by 21 consecutive days and I was there with him. I just get up one day and say, I’m going to write an improvisation method book and I was doing it while I spent every night at the hospital. It was a great challenge because I did not feel capable to do that. There is a very big difference between to teach and to write in an organized manner, in a way that everything looks very easy. This will serve to show that you must know your goals and do the right programing in order to achieve them.
PPM: What is the biggest challenge for you as a musician?
SQ: The biggest challenge is to achieve a continuous, ascending creative process among many commitments and activities.
PPM: When and how did your first introduction to piano happened? Who were your teachers? What methods did they use in teaching you?
SQ: I grew up in a Baptist family so, I got into music through the church. We had many groups that played gospel music in my church. I grew up listening to this type of music, and it made me a specialist in it. In my church, I played piano, guitar, drums, bass, and saxophone—whatever I could get my hands on.
I’m self-taught; I never had classes on piano or any other instrument. My parents didn’t have the conditions to allow them to pay for classes for me.
PPM: Where do you live now?
SQ: I live in countryside of the state of São Paulo in a beautiful and calm city named Atibaia around 65 kilometers away from the city of São Paulo. With a wide veranda overlooking the mountains, my house is a place to be in contact with Nature.
PPM: Please, describe a typical week in the life of Samuel Quinto.
SQ: I am grateful I can be home almost every morning there I stay with my wife Larissa, our baby Elis (1 year and 4 months of age), our dog Azul that means Blue in Portuguese and our cat Buchito. In the afternoons I have many commitments. I have activities ranging from writing to All About Jazz reviews, interviews to the Royal Society of Arts. I write arrangements on request for choir and orchestra. I work also with musical production. Have sometime to practice piano for my solo concerts. I’m working on my new musical that shows some Atibaia’s historical period. I give masterclasses and workshops usually taking place on the weekend. I have a company with a partner and great friend of mine Eng. Daniel Silas. We work with acoustic treatment project.
PPM: Is there a specific musician that you would like to collaborate with?
SQ: There are several! But I would love to play with Bobby McFerrin. I’m a huge fan!
PPM: What does creativity in piano performance mean to you?
SQ: It means putting your soul on public display. I think creativity is closely associated not only the techniques studied, but rather a challenge to balance them in your mind as you feel the music.
PPM: Do you have a piano joke or a funny story that happened to you?
SQ: I have a lot! LOL! Once was teaching a group of children in a Baptist church here in Brazil, I showed some photos of me in concert in Europe in order to motivate them to study harder to get going further. I asked them: Do you know why I’m showing these pictures? A little girl answered like this: To humiliate us. The children and I had many laughs together.
PPM: Tell us about your classical compositions.
SQ: My first symphonic composition, written in 2011, was the Symphony No. 1 in A flat Major “Pascha Aeternam” for the Orchestra, Chorus and soloists in 4 movements, that has emphasis on Easter. I wrote the Christmas Oratorio for Choir in 5 voices and Symphony Orchestra; my second symphony, the Symphony 2 in C Minor, titled “Symphony Lightly Beautiful” for choir and Orchestra in five voices, yet the Motet Angelical, inspired by the Bruckner’s motets in 5 voices; string quartets; Opera Samson and Delilah (unfinished), Minuets and preludes. 
In 2013, I adapted the Symphony No. 1 for the opera format. Opera Pascha Aeternam has in its structure with theater, classical and modern ballet, choir and soloists a total staff of 148 people, and it was presented at the Second Baptist Church in Mossoro, as well as the Municipal Theater Dix-Huit Rosado for a total estimated audience more than 1,500 people, receiving rave reviews in RN state newspapers. 
PPM: Let’s talk about a spiritual aspect of music and Latin Jazz in particular. How does music affect you on a spiritual level?
SQ: It is very easy to see how we are affected by music. Since ancient times it has been observed how music has the power to connect people to God. I understand that music is a language created by God. I use many of my compositions as a form of gratitude to Him allowing me to understand a little of this language every day more and more.
PPM: How does a family life get integrated into a busy schedule of a piano performer? Do you have a family? How do you see yourself balancing both?
SQ: It took me a lot to reach this stage I Am. Now I know enough to balance the time dedicated to my family. My daughter loves to play the piano with me. She plays a few notes in a language that still can not understand very well, but I think one day I will get. 
PPM:What would you like your fans to know about you?
SQ: I wanted everyone to know that I love learning about new cultures, talk to people around the world, helping people in their musical development and learn from the experiences of each of them. That’s why my contact is on my website so we can talk, meet people who have a lot of value to add not only to me and my music, but also to the society.
PPM: What are your hobbies besides piano?
SQ: I love to practice sports! I play soccer, volleyball and tennis. I love cinema, theater and go to the beach. 
Click here to see Samuel Quinto’s profile on

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