Based in the Valencia region, Antonio Serrano is one of the greatest harmonica players in the world. He has been awarded a Latin Grammy and also Masters of Mediterranean Music in Jazz Flamenco by Berklee Mediterranean Music Institute. He has played all over the world, including classical orchestras, and with renowned musicians like Larry Adler, Paco Lucia and Chaka Khan. ‘24/7 Valencia’ got to know Antonio Serrano after his recent show at ‘Matisse Club’ in Valencia.
24/7 VALENCIA: Can you tell us something about your background and musical education?
ANTONIO SERRANO: My father was a man of science and loved the harmonica and music. I consider myself the successful result of a pedagogical experiment by my father.
What is so special about the harmonica for you?
The harmonica is the instrument closest to the human voice. That makes it special and extremely expressive.
Can you tell us more about your experience working with Paco Lucia?
It was very easy to work with Paco de Lucia. It consisted of arriving on time and playing. We didn’t waste time rehearsing or taking photos or making videos for social media. With Paco I was lucky enough to live the music profession in its purest form, without much nonsense.
Does flamenco go where no other music goes?
Flamenco goes straight to the heart… without going via reason.
What is jazz for you?
For me, jazz is the music of the 20th century. Jazz is freedom within an order. It is a balance between the intellect and the heart.
Is classical music a joy for a harmonica player in terms of its possibilities?
Classical music is a joy for the whole world. Just like classical literature or architecture. These great works are proof that humanity has not always been stupid and ignorant.
What have you learned most from your travels around the world?
That the best place to be is at home.
Do you have a favourite memory of Larry Adler?
All my memories of him are favourites. I loved it when he introduced me to his friends as his protégé. I loved that he never talked to me about the harmonica; we only laughed and talked about music.
How does life in the Valencia region compare with that of Madrid?
I don’t like to compare. Where I live… I try to be as good as I can. When I lived in Madrid, I enjoyed what I had and now in Altea I do the same. What I like best about Altea is the fruit and vegetable market, on Tuesday mornings.
Can you take us through the tracks of your latest album, ‘Tootsology’?
Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves)
Fate put me on stage with the great Toots and that’s what happened.
My musical tribute to the master of the chromatic harmonica in jazz.
Virtuosity and sensitivity in Thielemans’ pen.
Don’t Be that Way
Pure swing brought to the harmonica.
It is in the slow blues that you see the quality of a jazz musician.
Sunny Day (Sesame Street Theme)
A little fun, please.
I Do It for Your Love
Remembering one of the best albums in the history of jazz: “Affinity” by Bill Evans and Toots Thielemans.
Three Views of a Secret
In a tribute to Toots Thielemans one cannot help but refer to his chemistry with Jaco Pastorious.
Beautiful composition by Baron Thielemans.
A little more swing to close this tribute to the one who once said: Be yourself, no more, no less.
Interview by Will McCarthy
Article copyright 24/7 Valencia