Giuseppe Continenza: Italian Bop Guitarist
GC:I was touring with Bireli Lagrene and he had just recorded an album with Dominique DiPiazza and Dennis Chambers. So Bireli told me about Dominique and how good his playing is. I already knew him from his record with John McLaughlin and I really love his playing. He's just so natural and warm and as a person, and this really reflects in his music.
With Vic it was a bit different.I played a concert with Joe Diorio a few years ago and he told me about Vic. Basically, he said, "Giuseppe, you have to play with Vic. He is a great player and I'm sure something special will happen, something great between you two. So we got in touch after that.
AAJ: Can you explain some of the concept and focus behind the new cd?
GC: The focus was on playing good music and enjoying it! We chose some of our favorite standards and just made some arrangements of them. We played live in the studio. We wanted to play standards mixing up different kind of influences, giving our own interpretation to the tunes. As I said, I like to compose too and for sure, I'll release a recording featuring some of my compositions in the near future.
AAJ: Can you point us toward some of what you consider, the highlights of the disc?
GC: Check out our versions of "Stella by Starlight and "We Will Meet Again.
AAJ: Had you gigged with the unit on your new CD?
GC: The band never played before together. It was so great to play for the the first time together-it seemed as though we had been playing together for a long time. That's the magic of jazz music.
AAJ: Please tell us about the previous duet record with Vic Juris. Did you do any performances off of that release?
GC: Journey was a duo jazz guitar records and it was really fun to do. We did a short Italian tour after the record came out.
AAJ: Please tell our readers the best way to purchase your recordings.
GC: The best and most economic way to purchase my records is to buy directly from the record companies. So, for Journey you can buy it at the Jardis Records website and for the CD Seven Steps To Heaven disc, you should go to Widesound.
AAJ: What axes do you focus on with your projects? Is it mostly archtop jazz guitar? I see in the photos you also play the Benedetto guitars.
GC: Yes I'm an endorser of Benedetto's Guitars. He actually made a custom model for me called the "Cremona Custom and it's just a wonderful instrument. I'm really in love with his soundBob Benedetto is just a great genius! I used the new guitar on the last record. You can play the Benedetto with just a microphone in front of it and it sounds wonderful, a great acoustic sound. There are many great combinations I like to use between the pickup and microphone. I'm also using a classical guitar built by the great Italian luthier Luciano Buscarini- another wonderful instrument. Occasionally, I use solid body guitars, like my Les Paul 25/50 with a Roland Guitar synth.
AAJ: Guitarists today have so much sonic territory available to them. What factors go into any "self-editing," purely in terms of the sounds or patches you use, in terms of what sounds good and what sounds bad to your ears?
GC:I think that a good sound has to be clean and definitive even if there is distortion. I love the acoustic sound especially. Although I occasionally use distortion or a synth, I prefer the clean fat sound of a good archtop or acoustic or classical guitar.
AAJ: In terms of harmonic territory, are there particular sources that you would point interested people towards? What books or recordings would you particularly advise students of harmony, improvisation and "time" concepts to seek out?
GC:I really liked the Dave Liebman book A Chromatic approach to Jazz Harmony.
Time, for me, is very important and I always stress that my students become good rhythm players, because it's the most natural way to get the perfect sense of time, so when you begin improvising, you'll have a strong foundation with the rhythm.
AAJ: Are there some elements of improvisation that are particularly fruitful for you, concepts that you keep revisiting and/or reinventing that keep your playing and your lines cutting edge and fresh?
GC:I'm really attracted to intervallic playing. It's a really interesting way to play and there are so many new things to discover. I've been really into it from a long time. It's always important, as well, to get new chords into my playing.
AAJ: Tell us the differences in the European market for your concerts and recordings versus the American market.
GC:I think that European market for live jazz music is much better than U.S. these days. There are many jazz festivals and clubs all over Europe, but in the US there's New York and then only a few others places, like San Francisco and L.A. They're great, but comparatively speaking, for the size of the countries, Europe is prolific. In Paris, London, and Stockholm and you can see so many live jazz concerts every day of the week.