Sitting down to speak with him, I quickly became aware that I was in the presence of a surprising and extraordinary character, and a very kind one at that.

Long considered one of the best jazz pianists in the world, Chindamo is also so much more.

He is a musical polyglot, who has recorded 23 albums and won many prestigious awards.

His latest passion is composing classical music.

Born in Australia to Calabrian parents, Chindamo began playing the piano at the age of six.

Unlike many artistic children, he didn’t inherit his passion for piano from his parents.

When he was young, his mother gifted him a piano accordion which had belonged to his uncle, and from there he began to learn his first notes.

“Nobody taught me to play jazz or compose classical music,” Chindamo explained.

“I’m lucky because I’m like a sponge; I just have to listen to something and I learn.”

Chindamo is gearing up to perform on Friday evening at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the NGV Friday Nights series.

This year’s edition of the famous series showcases several artists from the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

Friday will be Chindamo’s third performance of the series and he has something special in store for his audience.

Though Chindamo has had resounding success in the world of jazz, there came a time when he was ready for something different, and so he let himself become immersed in the sphere of classical music.

This transition was spurred when he met accomplished violinist Zoe Black, and the two began an ongoing collaboration.

Like everything in his life, Chindamo has put a unique twist on this newfound passion.

In fact, he combines his love for jazz and classical music to create a completely new concept.

Jazz is a genre born out of the evolution of musical forms used by African American slaves, while classical music has Western roots and is traditionally associated with the upper classes of society.

The fusion of these two genres can become very dangerous, according to Chindamo.

“Try to imagine a pop singer performing with an orchestra,” he said.

“The singer does what they’re used to and will not bring about any major changes, while the orchestra will adapt itself to pop arrangements, and won’t create anything new.”

On the other hand, Chindamo’s work draws on elements from both genres and creating something completely original, which he describes as “a blurring of contemporary classical music”.

Having participated in many jazz festivals across the globe, including the Umbria Jazz Festival, Chindamo realised that many jazz musicians are guilty of not telling their own stories and of living in an imaginary world – that of New York or New Orleans in the 1980s.

Through the pairing of jazz and classical music, Chindamo has managed to tell his own story and express his own emotions.

Though this is working for him at this particular point in his life, the talented musician assured us that things may change again in the future.

“We’ll talk again in 10 years and see what happens!”

For more information or tickets, visit the NGV’s website.