Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Two Questions Redux

My latest blogpost subject is the only jazz artist I personally know who has played with Blood Sweat & Tears. His name is Tom Guarna, and he is an extraordinary guitarist who has been sideman with a long list of bands and individual jazz greats including the Yellowjackets, Randy Brecker, Lenny White, Bob Dorough, Buddy DeFranco, Javon Jackson, Les McCann, Joe Locke, the Mingus Orchestra, and Billy Drummond. He has gigged very recently with pianists George Colligan and Kerry Politzer. Tom has led his own groups in clubs such as the Blue Note, Sweet Rhythm, Fat Cat and Smalls. Furthermore, he holds an undergraduate degree from The New School and a Masters Degree from The Juilliard School.

Tom Guarna enthusiastically agreed to answer the familiar two questions. Those answers now follow.

1. Why did you decide on a career in music?

Well, a career in music really decided on me. My father played guitar and would have people over the house to play. He would also take me to band rehearsals. There was a lot of music happening around the house, so when I really developed a serious interest in music in my late teens, it was a natural progression.

2. What is it you love about jazz that made you decide to focus on that type of music?

I grew up listening to classic rock, funk and R and B. Then I got into the classic Jazz Rock groups like Return To Forever and Weather Report and Tony Williams Lifetime. Once I started to research all the artists that these band members worked with, I discovered Miles and Coltrane and I was hooked. I just kept working back from there listening to Bird, Monk, Bud Powell, Ellington, Mingus, etc. I have always loved to improvise. Even when I was playing in rock and funk bands I would always rather play improvised solos rather than play the solos on the recordings. The tunes and wide harmonic palette that jazz offered was something that drew me in as well.

If you'd like to experience Tom Guarna live, he has an upcoming gig with the John Benitez Group. It's happening Monday, January 24th, at the 55 Bar, from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

The next best thing would be to check out a You Tube video of him at Fat Cat, performing his original composition, "Shambleau". You can see it by clicking here.

For further information about Tom and his music, go to his website, .

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