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Tom Guarna



August 23, 2024

About the Artist


Grammy-nominated guitarist, composer and arranger Tom Guarna began his musical studies at age fifteen, rapidly demonstrating a natural ability to play and compose. After studying classical guitar and composition at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in 1986, he played local gigs in New York and fine-tuned his education with John Abercrombie. He earned a Bachelor Degree from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in 2008, and a Master’s Degree at The Juilliard School in 2010.

After working with several jazz bands, he joined Blood Sweat and Tears in 1995 and toured extensively with them for the next three years. Since then, he has forged his own voice as a modern jazz guitarist, performing with a wide range of artists including Wallace Roney, Stanley Clarke, Mark Turner, Branford Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Mulgrew Miller, Fred Wesley, Mike Clark, Uri Caine, The Allman Brothers, The Yellowjackets, and Gary Bartz.

Guarna has toured five continents with his own quartets and as a top sideman in several exciting groups led by Lenny White, E.J. Strickland, and Les McCann. He was a featured artist on over thirty albums, and composed “If You Dare,” a funk-rock song on Lenny White's 2010 Anomaly CD. Guarna also toured the United States with pianist Manuel Valera, after playing on the Grammy Award-nominated 2012 album, New Cuban Express.

As composer and leader, Guarna has recorded: Get Together (2005), Out from the Underground (2007), Wingspan (2008), Major Minor (2009), Bittersweet (2011), and the hard-grooving Rush (2014), which garnered wide acclaim. His seventh album, The Wishing Stones (2017), featuring an all-star quartet of drummer Brian Blade, bassist John Patitucci and pianist Jon Cowherd, was lauded a 4-star rating in DownBeat Magazine.

Tom Guarna, a guitarist whom DownBeat magazine has praised for the “emotion, tension, surprise and passion” in his playing on Rush, assembled what he calls “a dream team” for The Wishing Stones. The album, his first for the Destiny Records label, was released in November of 2017. The 11 hook-laced Guarna originals, produced by the guitarist and performed with warmth and élan by his all-star quartet, were masterfully engineered by George Shalda. It was recorded at Sear Sound, the New York site of historic studio sessions for artists such as David Bowie and Wynton Marsalis.
The Wishing Stones was inspired by his accidental discovery of Aruba's Rock Wish Garden, a peaceful beach featuring stone structures that visitors have built over the years as totems. Guarna explains: “Each of these stacks of stones has a story, representing the desires, aspirations and memories of many people. I’d like my songs - my stacks of stones, as it were – to have a similar resonance with listeners. That’s been a goal as I evolve, to convey life's emotions in music, whether it’s in my writing or the textures I create on the guitar. I want to get to the heart of the matter.”

Guarna incorporates many styles (jazz, funk, latin, soul, pop, R&B, world music) into his own blend of unique and engaging music, as he forges ahead within his forte: modern jazz with a touch of classical influence.

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