WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For 21st Century Media
Monnette Sudler is known as Philadelphia’s “First Lady of Guitar.” And for the sixth time since 2009 the jazz guitarist will present the Philadelphia Guitar Summit at Montgomery County Community College in Whitpain on Jan. 24.
The Lionel Loueke Trio will headline this year’s event. Also performing will be Sudler’s World Music Ensemble, jazz guitarist Jimmy Bruno and classical guitarist Nikolay Gavlishin. And there will be a special interview with legendary bassist/guitarist Carol Kaye.
In a phone interview from her home in Philadelphia, Sudler explained the origins of the Guitar Summit.
“I wanted to enlighten people on the capabilities of the guitar, how vast and diverse it is as an instrument and those instruments that are related to the guitar family. Originally I wanted to have an entire day where we would have workshops in the morning, jam sessions in the afternoon and a final performance in the evening, but I had to break that down. Now I’m doing workshops periodically during the year and (then the) final concert.”
Sudler said “I try to choose (the performers) because of their excellence and passion. I don’t always choose people because they’re well known. If I hear someone that really touches me, I just trust that gut feeling that it will touch someone else as well.”
She added: “There are a lot of people who love (the guitar), and those who are not quite as familiar with it can have an opportunity to become familiar and still be entertained by a variety of different styles.”
In addition to the concert there will also be an early evening workshop titled African and Blues Accents, which will be conducted by Sudler and Loueke. The workshop is free and open to the public.
“It will entail some performance by Lionel and myself, some discussions on his technique in jazz and being from Nigeria and how that relates to his music. And also we’ll be talking about the blues and how these different styles blend together.”
Sudler is fortunate to be able to continue to performing, teaching and hosting the event. She had a double lung transplant in October of 2013.
“I’m blessed. I’m really blessed. I’m getting around and I’m playing again and I’m very happy.”
The Lionel Loueke Trio: Lionel Loueke is an acclaimed master jazz guitarist. A veteran of bands led by Terence Blanchard and Herbie Hancock, Loueke brings jazz into vibrant contact with the sounds of his homeland in Benin, West Africa. He combines harmonic complexity, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African folk forms, and numerous techniques on acoustic and electric guitars to create a warm, evocative sound. He has toured the world and recorded with such legends as Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Kenny Barron and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. His trio includes bassist Michael Olatuja and drummer Mark Guiliana. His latest album is “Heritage” (Blue Note Records, 2012).
Monnette Sudler’s World Music Ensemble: Monnette Sudler started out performing folk music, yet her style evolved into performing traditional and contemporary jazz. She is also a poet, singer and prolific songwriter. Her contribution to the Guitar Summit Concert this year will be her World Music Ensemble, which she assembled especially for the event. The group features Sudler on guitar, Tony “TNT” Jones on bass, Barry Sames on piano, Dave Doggett on pedal steel guitar, Jerry Doe on drums, Leonard “Doc” Gibbs on percussion, Marcy Francis on shekere and vocals and Princess Fatu Gayflor on vocals.
“I’ve performed with these people for many years but not as a total unit. Princess Fatu Gayflor is the most recent (addition). I’ll be doing my original music and we’ll be doing at least one of Fatu’s original pieces also.”
Jimmy Bruno: Jimmy Bruno is a master jazz guitarist and jazz educator from Philadelphia. He is one of the most critically acclaimed jazz guitarists performing today. He toured around the world as the youngest member of the Buddy Rich Orchestra and went on to play guitar in orchestras for Frank Sinatra, Anthony Newley, Doc Severinsen, Lena Horne and many more music icons. Since the 1990s Bruno has led his own bands and he also performs solo. He has recorded 13 albums under his own name.
Nikolay Gavlishin: Nikolay Gavlishin is the first classical guitarist to participate in the Philadelphia Guitar Summit. An up-and-coming artist, he is making impressions on aficionados and casual listeners alike. Gavlishin was the winner of the 2012 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society Competition and recipient of West Chester University’s Sophomore Instrumental Scholarship. He is an experienced musician who strives to make each note both personal and captivating. With pieces ranging from Eastern European folk music to classical music to contemporary pop and rock songs, Gavlishin brings a fresh perspective to the classical guitar.