ESC 2009 took place in Syracuse at the Palazzo Impellizzeri hall in Via Maestranza. Ortigia was, for each edition of the Campus, the perfect setting for organizing the event and the feedback received every year from all participants was incredibly good also from the point of view of the choice of location. The event has now affirmed its importance in the international educational landscape in Italy.
During the fourth edition we had the pleasure of inviting great guitarists who have increased the guest list: the guitarist and teacher Richard Smith, the famous Kee Marcello and the shredder Paul Gilbert. Andrea Avena, as from the first year, was called to give lessons on music theory.
The 2009 edition got a special issue and the cover of the famous Italian magazine AXE Magazine.
Richard Smith, jazz guitar teacher at the University of Southern California and multiple winner of the Best Contemporary Jazz Guitar Album, enters Palazzo Impellizzeri carrying a James Tyler Studio Elite year ’87 now in a worn-out body, with which he teaches a lesson on rhythmics, especially funk. By playing a note or a chord, Richard shows how the binary (every two notes) and ternary (every three notes) accents can be combined for a very varied and original result, creating groups of five or seven. The exercise should naturally be done with the metronome for exceptional mastery and performed alternating the picking, even starting with the upbeat of the pick, for absolute independence. Of course it is an exercise that can be confusing at first, but it simply takes time for the ear and hand to get used to it.
Moving on to harmony, Richard shows inversions of seventh chords with the technique of “voicing drop 3”: from a chord in a “tight” arrangement (i.e. in which the four voices of the chord are close and impossible to play, since the fingering is too wide) we obtain an inversion in which one note of the four is lowered by an octave and allows an easier position for the left hand. The lowered note can be the root note or another, such as the third, from which drop 3 takes its name.
Kee Marcello, a Swedish musician fascinated by the world of guitar since childhood, has been influenced by Ritchie Blackmore and Carlos Santana up to more technical and elaborate artists such as Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin. His fame certainly derives from his militancy in Europe, but persists in his solo career which boasts five albums and dozens of featuring.
The famous guitarist shows some awesome technical peculiarities with the use of an elaborate tapping that combines the use of index and middle fingers on phrases that move on multiple strings, changing finger from one string to another; the execution is spectacular.
So much importance is also given to the alternate picking, capable of giving an extra boost to the speed of execution, while a gem of his style is the use of string skipping (passing from one string to another skipping the middle one) on neoclassical scales.
Paul Gilbert is one of those guitar heroes risen from the 80s who deviate from the clichés of neoclassical guitarists and the ones too tied to the technical aspect. He made his debut with Racer X and kept it on with Mr. Big, a superband with the collaboration of Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey and Eric Martin, musicians with high technical and musical abilities, to lead a respectable solo career, based on spectacular technique and great feeling.
He arrives on the ESC stage with an Ibanez (for years he has been an endorser) PGM-FRM1 with which he leaves all the participants in awe, bewitched by the speed and originality of the American guitarist’s playing. He states that he does not prefer sweep picking as much as string skipping, with which he is able to better master the tempo and range with a very wide fingering.
Regarding the alternating pick, he recommends an optimal position of the pick, between the slightly inclined thumb and the outer part of the index finger, at an angle to the string for greater control.
At the end of the lessons, the certificates were delivered to the participants by the guests themselves with the presence of Andrea Quartarone, Sicilian guitarist and teacher, as well as ESC organizer since 2006.
Like every year, also in this edition the IGJ (International Guitar Jam) was organized with the three artists present which took place in Syracuse in three set sections: Richard Smith began with songs from his album “The L.A. Chillharmonic “with the support of Andrea Avena on bass, then Kee Marcello went on stage for a hard rock performance and finally Paul Gilbert with original songs and famous interpretations, such as Light My Fire. Last but not least, a bluesy jam could not be missing, which was attended by all three six-string monsters present at the 2009 edition. IGJ 2009