Ben Finkel, 16, first began playing the piano in kindergarten. He has no idea what drew him to the instrument, but being very young when he began, he was either laser focused or had a patient piano teacher.
“Very patient,” Finkel said. “Dave Latchaw was my teacher, and he plays really jazzy keyboards. He was very patient with me for that first while that I was learning.”
When asked what kind of music was influencing him as he matured at piano and keyboards, his answer makes him sound more Baby Boomer than Gen Z.
“When I was really young I liked the Beatles, thought they were just a fantastic band,” he said. “They have some amazing songs. Then I started getting into more classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Steely Dan. Steely Dan brought that jazz fusion sound in, and their albums Aja and The Royal Scam have been a large influence on me with that jazz and jazz fusion sound. Since then I’ve just gotten into more and more jazz and progressive music. Return to Forever is a band I love, and I love King Crimson, old Genesis, old Yes.”
Unsure if he’ll continue to pursue music professionally or not, he does intend to continue playing. He currently has a band, Zen BBQ, that intends to get back on stage later this year.
He does have one favorite memory of performing before the music stopped.
“Two summer ago, we played at GearFest at the Sweetwater Pavilion,” he said. “It was the Thursday night before GearFest started, and we were playing for the staff and had all the sound technicians there. That was fun.”
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