Tom Guarna - The Wishing Stones

Label/Year: Destiny Records, 2017

Lineup – Tom Guarna: guitar; Jon Cowherd: piano, Rhodes; John Patitucci: bass; Brian Blade: drums.

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In order to sonically illustrate 11 originals on his new CD The Wishing Stones, guitarist/composer Tom Guarna assembles a super quartet composed of Jon Cowherd on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Brian Blade on drums, all of them bandleaders in their own right.

On the crystalline “Prelude”, a welcoming piece filled with full-blown melodicism and arpeggiated piano, the guitarist works his way into “Song for Carabello”, a responsive, breezy song in 7, delivered with a vibrant Rosenwinkel-feel. Soloing alternately, Guarna and Cowherd sound pretty much in-the-groove.

The relaxing “Surrender Song” is warmly propelled by the lightness of Blade’s brushwork and Patitucci’s dancing bass groove. Together, bassist and drummer craft a fetching rhythmic hook up to serve the prodigious soloing aptitudes of both the pianist and the bandleader.

There is a time for guitar synth-inflected balladry with “Moments=Eternity”, an opportunity to listen to Patitucci’s ideas, and also for amiable jazz-funk with “Unravel”, where folk-like melodies embrace the three-chord harmonic pattern with firmness. Guarna improvises over a subtle bass pedal that is later discontinued when Cowherd starts exploring on Fender Rhodes.

Bouncy post-bop symptoms occur on “Modules”, whose swinging motions serve not only to feed the individual creative moments but also the trading eights between Blade and his cohorts.

Beautiful and lyrical is the guitar intro of the title track, a joy to listen to. This number evinces buoyant funk/soul qualities pervaded in its colorful and slightly Latin soundscapes. While Cowherd often goes bluesy in his statements, Guarna exerts resolute attacks to show off crisp motivic phrases as he manipulates his Collins Soco Deluxe guitar with ample vision. A vamp is established at the end to spark off Blade’s reactions. 

The album closes with “Native Tongue” whose intro instantaneously revives “The Girl From Ipanema” in my head. Regardless the false rumor, the tune goes in a completely different direction while maintaining a temperate Latin rhythm.

With fascinating compositions, The Wishing Stones shows a quartet whose strong rapport and commitment to the music is undeniable.

        Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Song for Carabello ► 06 - Unravel ► 08 - The Wishing Stones