Louis Guarino Jr. was, to be honest, unknown to me until he sent me an e-mail with a link to some of his music samples. The quite clear musical references to Miles Davis electric period, but then moved into a more spiritual, more meditative context, immediately stirred my attention, and indeed, the music is better than the samples. Guarino is a trumpeter by education, but he adds synthesizer, piano and percussion programming to his credits. He is joined on this album by Michael Gregory on bass, guitar and vocals (on 1 track), Jesse Hameen on electronic drums and Herb Wilson on Tenor Saxophone. As for the rest - production, engineering, art work - all is by Lou Guarino himself, a sufficient illustration, not of the musician's skills in all these matters, but of the poor publishing environment for today's musicians. The music itself is good, influenced by Miles and Wadada Leo Smith, with long piercing and emotive trumpet playing over an irregular yet pulsing rhythmic environment, with the synth adding drama and the right accentuation, and the sax adding an extra dimension, although the trumpet is at the absolute center of the entire disc. True, the references are too obvious and the originality suffers a little from it, but the delivery and the authenticity of the performance are really great. The best tracks are the ones with the full band, as on the 17 minute long "In The Shadow Of Paradox". The solo piece "Sahara's Secrete Spaces", has a little less substance, and the vocals on "The Cycle Continues" are really not to my taste, even if they add a new dimension to Guarino's counterpoint muted playing. In short, the trumpet playing is great, most of the music is too, but unfortunately not for the entire record. Many moments of pure listening pleasure, though.
by Stef at his FREE JAZZ site
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