Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"RUSH": Tom Guarna's New CD is a Winner

Guitarist Tom Guarna
If you are looking for some new New York type of jazz, high energy with compelling yet soulful compositions and an all star cast, then look no further. Tom Guarna's latest album, "Rush," is guaranteed to satisfy your inner jazz critic. Guarna is one of a new breed of musicians who has studied the traditions, has skills to burn, but is not afraid to push the envelope and go outside the box. 

I like to call this music New York Jazz, although some might erroneously call it Fusion. It is not fusion in the sense of reminding us of the Jazz Rock of the late 60's and 1970's, although Guarna and company are no doubt familiar with the subgenre. There is a lot of swing, and with the exception of electric guitar and Fender Rhodes on some of the tracks, it's an otherwise acoustic album. If one means fusion in the sense of this is music with many influences fusing to create a
singular sound, then I'll accept that. But this is no Return To Forever ripoff; Guarna has his own vision and "Rush" unmistakeably brings it to life.

From the title and opening track, the SOUND of this recording will grab your attention. It's a big, clear sound, all of the instruments sound warm, and it's full without sounding overly compressed. The song "Rush" is a kind of spinning wheel of energy based on a low register 3/4 guitar riff; from there, Guarna and saxophone monster Joel Fromm join together to play weaving lines while the rhythm section of pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Orlando le Fleming, and drumming master Johnathan Blake drive the engine. Guarna's composition's are heavy, but they don't take themselves too seriously, and there is plenty of space for blowing. On "Shambleau, " a kind of D minor swing which really opens up, Joel Fromm begins his solo with a high degree of harmelodic nastiness which I don't often hear from him. 

Danny Grissett has been in high demand as an accompanist for years; I especially enjoy his floating textures on "Dreamland." I've recorded with Johnathan Blake and used to play with him quite a bit; now, it seems as though every time I turn around and say, "That drummer on the recording is KILLING! Who is it?" -well, 9 times out of 10, it's Johnathan Blake; he's nailing everything Guarna has given him. A tune like "Movement and Repose" is clearly an
Johnathan Blake
obstacle  course of a challenge, and Blake, as well as bassist le Fleming, handle it with ease.

I'm hoping that "Rush" will be the album that will push Tom Guarna into the conversation which includes Kurt Rosenwinkle, Johnathan Kreisberg, and Gilad Hekselman; Guarna is easily in that category, in fact, this recording proves he is in his own category.

"Rush"(Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records) will be available for download on Itunes on February 25th. Also, check out the BJUR site, as well as Tom Guarna's site. Also, here are Tom Guarna's tour dates:

Feb 23
Tom Guarna Quintet
CD Release Show
55 Bar
Jon Cowherd - fender rhodes
Orlando le Fleming - bass
Chris Cheek - saxophone
E.J. Strickland - drum
9pm to 12am

March 1
Manuel Valera's New Cuban Express
Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
Houston TX

April 16th
Tom Guarna Quartet
The Blue Whale
Los Angeles CA
CD Release Show 8pm to 12am
Mark Ferber - drums
Dave Robaire - bass
Miro Sprague - piano

April 17th
Tom Guarna Quartet
CD Release Show
8pm to 11:30pm
San Diego CA
Joshua White - piano
Mark Ferber - drums
Bass - TBA

April 18th
Tom Guarna Trio
8pm to 12am
Los Angeles CA

April 21
Tom Guarna Masterclass
Portland State University
Portland OR

April 22
George Colligan Group
Jimmy Mak's
Portland OR
Damian Erskine - bass
Reinhart Melz - drums
George Colligan - piano/keys
8pm to 12am

April 23
George Colligan Organ Trio
Jo Bar
Portland Or
8pm to 12am

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.