STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
Monnette Sudler returns to Montgomery County Community College for the 7th annual Philadelphia Guitar Summit. This year, however, there is a twist. The concert, entitled “Bass Off,” will focus on the bass guitar.
This year’s featured artists include three Philadelphia bassists — Gerald Veasley, Cedric Napoleon and Steve Green. In addition, African native Bakithi Kumalo will be a special guest.
For more information on the featured artists, see Fern Brodkin’s companion story.
Sudler will once again perform original compositions with her World Music Ensemble, which includes pianist Barry Sames and vocalist Fatu Gayflor, who performed with her at the Summit last year. This year Daryl Burgee will be playing percussion with the group, participating in the Summit for the first time.
All four bassists will have the opportunity to showcase their talents with solo performances as well as with members of Sudler’s ensemble and/or with the full ensemble. As always, it promises to be an interesting and entertaining concert with much variety.
I interviewed Sudler by phone from her home in Philadelphia and she explained why she founded 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. It’s about diversity. Different types of guitarists, styles, different genders, different ages of performers and different cultures. I give everybody a little taste of everything.”
Sudler explained how she was inspired to dedicate this year’s Summit to the bass guitar.
“I had gone out one night and saw Cedric Napoleon and I looked at him and (the idea) just came to me. I said, ‘You know, that would be a great thing, to have a show called Bass Off and have some of the most talented and well-known bassists to be a part of the Summit this year.’”
Every year there is also a workshop in conjunction with the Guitar Summit concert. This year’s workshop took place on Feb. 5 and was conducted by Sudler and special guest bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Tacuma is unable to perform at the concert because of a performance engagement in Europe.
Perhaps the most exciting evolution in the history of the Philadelphia Guitar Summit is that it will soon be the subject of a documentary. This will enable people outside the Philadelphia area to experience the Summit. Sudler has footage from all the Summits except for the first year.
“I’m focusing on explaining the diversity and showcasing some of the talent that’s been at the Summit thus far,” she said about the documentary. “It will include footage of this year’s Summit as well.”
Sudler hopes to have the documentary, which is partly funded by the Leeway Foundation, completed by next winter.
“Montgomery County Community College is going to work with me on some of the editing. Brent Woods from the college has been very helpful in that area.”
Sudler acknowledged that she doesn’t think many people understand what the Guitar Summit is about. She said the Summit experience is good for both the audience and the performers.
“Even the performers learn and enjoy mingling with other performers that are similar but who have different styles and different techniques.”
She added: “Those who have come say they really enjoy it and they keep coming back, and I appreciate that.”
IF YOU GO
What: Philadelphia Guitar Summit ‘Bass Off’ Concert
When: Show at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4.
Where: Science Center Theater, Central Campus, Montgomery County Community College, 340 DeKalb Pike, Whitpain.
Tickets: $30 for adults; $26 for senior citizens; $10 for children.
Info.: Call 215-641-6518 or visit www.mc3.edu/arts/lively-arts.
Event website: www.philadelphiaguitarsummit.com.