Tom Guarna: “jazz is self expression and possibilities”

There’s a certain kind of understated power in Tom Guarna‘s playing that makes him stand out among the jazz guitarists; it’s almost like he’s distancing himself from the bold statements that come out of his guitar, letting it do the talking for him and narrate these stories, full of humanism and warmth. Having already gained the respect of his peers for his distinctive full-bodied sound, the guitarist is slowly but steadily seeing his following grow, with each performanc. These days, he’s playing at Bird’s Basement in Melbourne, supported by a great rhythm section: pianist Jon Cowherd, drummer Kendrick Scott and bassist Ben Williams. Here’s what he has to say about it.

What would you tell people to invite them to your shows at Bird’s Basement?

I would invite them by letting them know they will be listening to an incredible group of musicians playing nice songs. I don’t expect anything, but I do hope they are engaged in the performance and enjoy the music – Iwill be presenting the compositions from my latest CD ‘The Wishing Stones’. It’s our jobs as performers to engage the audience and bring them along on our musical journey.

You’re bringing along a stellar band; what can you say about them?

We have all played together in different projects, so I am pretty familiar with their musical sensibilities. We are all comfortable with each other, which makes for a creative dynamic between us. Each musician brings their distinct personalities to the music which I feel compliments my tunes. That is why I chose them.

What has the highlight of your career been so far?

There have been many but getting to play my original compositions around the world with such great musicians is a highlight.

What has been the greatest challenge you have ever met?

I think one of the biggest challenges musically is being focused and productive every day.

When did you realise that you have found your own voice as an artist?

I feel that my individual voice started to really become solidified on my previous CD, ‘Rush’. I hope to keep refining it.

What is your greatest aspiration?

Just to keep growing as a person and musically.

If you could go back in time and meet your younger self, what would you tell him?

Be patient, stay positive and keep working tirelessly towards your goals.

How did you get into jazz?

I got into jazz in my late teens from friends who turned me onto it.

What does jazz mean to you?

Self expression and possibilities.

Which tune best describes your current state of mind?