1. When did you form Solponticello, and what's the
philosophy behind it?
Solponticello was formally launched in October 2001. The idea had been
in my mind for about a year or two prior, a way to put under one umbrella
my promotional and musical activities; it came together quite organically
when Robert Duckworth?s tog group, Julia Powell with her ?Music Swims
Back to Me? project and my own SS Puft Quartet were seeking a way to release
our music. The philosophy is indicated by the name- Solponticello is a
play on the Italian musical term ?sul ponticello? which means to draw
a bow across the bridge of a violin or cello, making a very evocative,
radiant sound. The radiance to me suggests sunbeams, which relates to
?sol? (Spanish for sun), and the name presented itself... ?sun across
the bridge?. That?s what we?re doing, creating a context and forum for
some exciting and challenging sounds which are not yet part of the mainstream.
We?re creating tomorrow?s mainstream and celebrating today.
2. Similarly, what was the idea behind the formation of GCU? Was it
a way to be able to play with Sandor Szabo?
I heard Sandor?s solo 16 string guitar music and was taken away with the
emotional complexity and an immediately beautiful melodic approach unlike
any I had heard. His music stems in equal parts from the developments
of the great Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, traditional Hungarian folk
music, and Western jazz, rock, and improvisational styles. At the time,
I had been fascinated with the idea of exploring my own roots through
music, and as my family background is Eastern European, I thought working
with someone who thoroughly understands his culture would help me get
a sense of my own. Sandor and I eventually traded recordings and ideas,
and soon enough he was on a plane from Hungary to Georgia. The meeting
and resulting music could not have been a more edifying experience. He
is a deep and wise soul, and I contemplate many of his ideas daily.
3. You're working on a second album; when is it due, and how might
it be different from The View You Never Get?
The second album is entitled ?GCU2?, a fun and functional title. The music
is from the same sessions as the first album though it differs in two
ways...one, I sequenced the first album and Sandor the second- while this
in theory does not effect the material, the flow of events is dictated
by an individual?s sense of pacing, and I believe this extra-musical sensibility
is perceptibly different. Secondly, on the new album Sandor added some
overdubs and effects, with wonderful results...the first album, in contrast,
is largely as it was played. It?ll be a little while before it surfaces...
4. What led you to commission the making of the H'arpeggione from Fred
Carlson? What are its advantages or the unique opportunities it affords
I first discovered Fred?s work by chance through a cover article in ?American
Luthier? magazine...I couldn?t put down one picture in particular- a photo
of a guitar with 18 strings- 6 conventional and 12 ?sympathetics? entering
into a channel in the neck (they emerge after the fingerboard ends and
go to their own ?buzzing? bridge). Fred?s instruments are a reminder that
we haven?t even begun to explore the possibilities of music creation and
sound generation. It was in this spirit of discovery that we set out to
create the H?arpeggione...a quartertone fretted six-string, twelve-sympathetic
hollow bodied acoustic instrument with the range of a doublebass through
a violin. It allows me to fill many roles in my music...and try many roles
never before imagined.
5. How many artists do you distribute through Solponticello, and what
determines their addition to the roster? (May be covered in #1)
Currently we have tog, Julia Powell, Riveter, SS Puft, GCU, Dromedary,
Klaus Janek, Kyle Dawkins (album coming soon), Erik Hinds (my solo album
Cerebus), and soon two new albums by the Georgia Guitar Quartet (one of
modern classical compositions, and one of original music by the members).
While these artists may have dramatically different visions for their
own music, they all have a clear and strong sense of purpose, and all
are exceptional within their fields. To me the common thread among these
musicians is they each have an acute awareness of color and understand
the spiritual and cultural impact of their musical choices. These are
people who live and breathe their creativity.
6. You said you fielded a lot of calls yesterday. What's behind all
the sudden interest? (If there's some specific event or press release
I haven't received or something, please be patient...my editor doesn't
always share vital information before interviews like this.)
We just put on a series of events called the Butterfly Effect, which included
shows at Seney-Stovall Chapel in Athens and First Existentialist Congregation
in Atlanta...these shows were intended to highlight the compositional
efforts of several of the people within our Solponticello family. There
are very few outlets for new composed music to be performed, so we decided
to create our own. Sally Coenen (who wrote the music for ?Kudzula?) had
a solo piano piece, Colin Bragg (of SS Puft and GCU) had an electronic
piece with dancer Blake Dalton, Julia Powell had an electronic setting
of Rumi?s poetry, Jason Solomon and Kyle Dawkins of the Georgia Guitar
Quartet each had a long-form quartet piece, and I offered my Diorama Octet
for the combined Georgia Guitar and SS Puft Quartets with Julia Powell
Also in the works is an international music festival to take place in
2004 in Athens. Ken Vandermark, Julia Powell, and I are the curators for
this event, and we?re excited to be in the planning stages now. Between
this and our own music and albums, things are busy, but it?s a good kind
That's it for now, I think. I can also try to call you again after
you get back from the holidays, if that's later this week or weekend and
you have time. Let me know, and thanks for your patience with this and
the crazy phone stuff. I like the CD, by the way, good stuff, especially
Carillon, I can see why it's the one that's highlighted on the site.
Thanks for the compliment!
Thanks and look forward to hearing from you soon,