Guitarist Giorgio Serci puts Jools Holland and Dame Shirley on hold to play Glasgow

By Rob Adams at

Giorgio Serci never knows where his next offer of work will come from.

It might be a call from Jools Holland or Dame Shirley Bassey. Or it might be an invitation from one of the world’s top orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic or the City of Birmingham Symphony.

All of these people and more have called on Serci’s services since the guitarist, composer, arranger, teacher, and magazine columnist left his native Sardinia for London in the early 1990s.

Serci will have Sardinia and a few other places on his mind when his Guitar Journey duo with fellow London-based guitarist Jonny Phillips comes to the Blue Arrow in Sauchiehall Street on Wednesday, May 9 as part a Scottish tour.

Giorgio Serci guitarist

Together: Giorgio Serci and Jonny Phillips will play the Blue Arrow in Sauchiehall Street

Serci and Phillips, who is best known for leading Oriole, one of the most accomplished groups on the UK jazz and world music scenes, had been friends for almost twenty years before they decided to form a musical partnership in 2015.

Having met and got chatting after a concert in South London, they quickly realized that they had much in common musically, including a fascination for the guitar’s history and how the instrument became such a big part of music all across the world.

“For a long time I’d had this idea for a group that explores the history of the guitar from its origins in Spain and North Africa out across the Americas,” says Phillips, who regularly visits Spain and Portugal to play and soak up the music there.

“Oriole does that to some extent but I like the two guitar format – it’s easily portable for one thing – and the moment I heard Giorgio play I felt he would be the ideal partner. It just took us a while to organize time for us to work on it.”

Although both players are serious students of the guitar and its international influence – Serci has a particular fascination for Brazilian and Cuban musical styles – they were keen to avoid a scholastic approach in presenting the music they put together to illustrate the guitar’s journey.

Giorgio Serci guitarist

History: Serci shares a fascination for the story of the guitar with Phillips

“It’s really about communicating how we feel about the music rather than how much we know,” says Serci. “When I first heard Jonny play I was immediately struck by his ability to tell a story through his compositions. He also has a deep understanding of traditional music from different parts of the world, and that comes across in his playing.

“It makes it fun for me to play with him and, I hope, a really enjoyable, entertaining experience for the audience when we play together.”

And should Jools or Dame Shirley try to get in touch while Serci and Phillips are travelling around Scotland? “I’ll have my mobile with me,” says Serci. “And if I happen to be onstage when they call, I hope they’ll leave a message.”

* Guitar Journey: Giorgio Serci & Jonny Phillips, Blue Arrow Club, Glasgow, May 9, 7.30pm. To book tickets visit the Blue Arrow Club website here