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Tom Guarna


BJU Records

Guitarist Tom Guarna wastes no time in drawing the listener into a musical vision as complex as it is catchy. In fact, the title tune, which begins the album, is a brilliant juxtaposition of a slow groove and the urgent double-time riffs that zoom over it. Guarna named the album "Rush" because, he says, the tunes came to him so fast he could hardly write them down. You can feel that excitement in the music.

Until now I had only heard Guarna as a sideman. But, on albums by Beka Gochiashvili and Manuel Valera, Guarna's playing was so strong he almost stole the show. Over the last two decades he has built his reputation, playing with Blood, Sweat & Tears, Branford Marsalis, The Yellowjackets, and many others. "Rush" is his sixth album as a leader.

When Guarna is not playing dazzling runs, his bandmate, saxophonist Joel Frahm, matches his imaginative flights. Keyboardist Danny Grissett also contributes wonderful solos. Frahm and Grissett are both absolutely burning on "Shambleau." Guarna is fortunate to have the excellent bassist Orlando Fleming and powerhouse drummer Johnathan Blake along for this adventurous ride. — BY RON NETSKY