STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
This is the 8th year of the Philadelphia Guitar Summit at Montgomery County Community College. Philadelphia’s first lady of guitar, Monnette Sudler, continues to present an interesting and diverse group of artists for this annual event. And this year she will once again deviate from strictly featuring guitarists.
The concert, which will be held on March 4, will feature three outstanding bands: Gloria Galante’s Jazz Harp Ensemble, M’oud Swing and the Portraits of Space and Time Quartet. In addition, Nasir Dickerson will perform a solo set on the kora, an African harp.
In a telephone interview from her home in Philadelphia, Sudler discussed this latest concert and what inspired her to expand to featuring instruments other than guitar.
“The ancestor of the guitar (is) the kora or the ngoni from Africa,” said Sudler, “and the reason why I’m calling the show Chord Nation is because all the strings chordally are one nation, all one family.”
Sudler added: “I think that people really enjoy coming for the diversity of the music, of guitar instruments (and) guitar-like instruments. I believe I present it in a way where I can introduce different styles of music in small doses and people are accepting of that. I try to be consistent with having jazz, of course.”
As for this year’s performers, Sudler has a direct connection to most of them. Sudler has worked with Gloria Galante, one of the preeminent harpists in the Philadelphia jazz community, “many times” over the years.
“Then with the M’oud Swing, they’ll be playing oud, which is another type of stringed instrument.”
She discovered M’oud Swing through keyboardist Barry Sames, who accompanied Sudler at last year’s Guitar Summit.
The Portraits of Space and Time Quartet features Paul Bollenback, who Sudler has also worked with.
And finally Sudler said she invited Dickerson to perform “since I was featuring Gloria’s harp, I thought that the kora would be a nice addition.”
“I feel really good about it,” said Sudler about this year’s lineup.
About the artists
The Gloria Galante Jazz Harp Ensemble is led by Gloria Galante, professor, director and founder of the West Chester University Arts and Humanities Harp Program and the West Chester University Harp Ensemble. She founded the Jazz Harp Ensemble at West Chester University in 2010. The other harpists in the group are Danielle Lehr, Elyse Kistler and Marissa Cusick — all West Chester University graduates and former students of Galante. Galante has performed with a number of renowned artists
including Frank Sinatra, Jr., Jose Feliciano, Diana Ross and Tyrone Brown. She currently performs with the Divine Hand Ensemble and the Legendary Jazz Quartet with Odean Pope, among others. Sudler will join the Jazz Harp Ensemble on a set that will include original compositions as well as music by John Coltrane and others.
M’oud Swing is a unique collective that combines jazz and Arabic music. The sextet was founded by Morrocan oudist Karim Kadiri and Philadelphia keyboardist Barry Sames in 2003. Their goal is to introduce jazz to a Middle Eastern/North African audience and the reverse for the western jazz listener. Their “Moroccan fusion” layers oud and modal jazz improvisation over newly created pseudo-rhythmic themes. In addition to Kadiri and Sames the sextet is rounded out by saxophonist Anibal Rojas,
Lebanese percussionist Joe Tayoun, bassist Dave Brodie and drummer David Najib Brown. The band released the album “Modal Citizens” (Intrigue) in 2007 and “You are here” in 2012.
The Portraits of Space and Time Quartet is led by guitarist and composer Paul Bollenback. In addition to performing with noted organist Joey DeFrancesco for 20 years, Bollenback has performed with many musical luminaries, including Stanley Turrentine, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Steve Gadd, David “Fathead” Newman, Terri Lyne Carrington and others. He is also an educator at Columbia University, Peabody Conservatory, Queens College and other institutions. Bollenback has released 8 CDs as a bandleader and is credited on over 80 recordings as a sideman. His most recent release is “Portraits in Space and Time” (Mayimba Music, 2014), which features his original music. Bollenback will be accompanied at this concert by Tim Brey on piano, Mike Boone on bass and Byron “Wookie” Landham on drums.
Nasir Dickerson is a graduate of the University of the Arts, with a bachelor’s degree in Saxophone Performance and a master’s degree in music education. During study with Les Ballet African de Guinea, he learned how to play the African kora. He has since perfected his technique on the instrument. In
addition to leading his own ensemble Nasir Dickerson & the Renaissance Messengers, Dickerson has performed with rappers Beanie Sigel, State Property and Stalley at Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival in Philadelphia. He will perform solo music on the kora at this concert.