SPIRITUAL AWAKENING REVIEWS
The first one is from "Keyboard Magazine" and was done by Titus Levi in the August 1998 issue on page 110. It was Titus' last "Discovery" column for the magazine and he cramed in several reviews into the colum. Here it is:
I can only get one jazz station in L.A., and they don’t have much to do with the electronic thing. Really. It’s as if Bitches brew never happened. And even though both Ordinari & Associati (also reviewed in this review) and Louis Guarino both have clear ties to Miles’s music, they use it as a starting point for pursuing entirely different aesthetic directions.
Peter Avanti and Alessandro Palmitessa take a more playful and prickly approach. Guarino goes for something heavier, more serious, and, well, darker. As a trumpet player, he’s worked with a number of forward-looking improvisers, including Carla Bley, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Amina Claudine Myers. On pieces like “A Conversation with the Spirits of the Mountain,” Guarino plays alternately languid and sputtering lines on his horn. And as with Miles, there’s “the cushion.” But in this case, it’s more of a throbbing, swirling, pulsing, and dreamy electronic haze rather than the groove-oriented backdrop of Miles’s later recordings. There’s range and variety throughout his recording Spiritual Awakenings, but the whole release has a focused and aural effect. “I picked these pieces because they’re in a mood, “ he says.
( he goes on to discuss Ordinari & Associati’s music for a short time before going on to others in the column)
The next one is from "The Music Paper" and was done in the October 1996 issue on page 11 by someone initialed, FB. It got 4 stars out of 5. A cassette was sent for review. Here it is:
The sounds on this tape made the hair on my arms stand up (as the Dutch say, “It gave me chicken skin”)! The music here is free and stirring. The bottom end rumbles with what the sound of OM sounds like and the horn on top flies like a mad bird. The production is simple/complex because it uses richness rather than a lot of studio tricks. But the real kicker is the performance. The music really stirs it up. The odd melodies really get to the center of your gut. This stuff is outside, very moving, and if you’re not dead, guaranteed to bring out a number of emotional responses. -FB ****
This one is from Jazzreview.com in March of 2002. The review is by Lee Prosser:
SPIRITUAL AWAKENINGS is an invigorating collection of trumpet & Steinerphone solos by composer/performer Louis Guarino Jr. It is a journey through contemporary jazz via way of a heavy influence of avant garde motifs. The songs vary in form and style.
Much improvising leads to some unusual and creative sounds in the collection. There are 6 selections, and each one is long and developed in an imaginative manner.
The titles of the songs are "A Conversation With The Spirits of The Mountain," "Mirrors," "A Voyage Thru The Clouds," "Metamorphosis," "Amnesia," and "Waterways." Each song will appeal to different listeners for different reasons. I found "Metamorphosis" among the most unique in this collection with its constant state of flux, and excellent trumpet innovations. For those who enjoy Louis Guarino Jr.'s compositions and instrument solo journeys, this will find a ready home. Guarino at his best.
Here is a review from AllAboutJazz.com. The review was done in April 2002 by C. Michael Baily and can be found here:
Spiritual Awakenings is the labor of love from New Haven CT trumpeter Louis Guarino, Jr. Mr. Guarino readily admits his influence by Miles Davis, as well as, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard. But it is Miles the most in attendance here. Mr. Guarino has an omnivorous appetite for music and musical genres, including admiration for artists as different as Charles Ives and Danny Elfman. His current stylistic resting place is a vastly updated In A Silent Way landscape with sparse instrumentation and wide-open spaces. This is a recording of moody textures and introspective faith. The moods of the recording range from soothingly placid and peaceful to a-cry-from-the-therapist's-couch anguished and dissonant. The extended suite "A Voyage Thru the Clouds" is the disc centerpiece, sonically describing the turbulence and unpredictability of emotional weather patterns. Guarino mutes his horn for the opening theme and "Part 1". He switches to an open bell for the transitional sections in "Theme (Improvised)" and "Part 2 (Changing Weather)." Guarino effectively builds tension in anticipating "Part 3 (the Storm)" before finishing calmly with the "Closing Theme." As a whole, Spiritual Awakenings is a well considered tone poem, one that was well thought out by the composer as well as well executed. This music is of the same ilk as sushi metaphysically, transcending the ordinary consumption for a higher realization and appreciation in texture and consistency.
Here is a review done in NAV(New Age Voice) magazine in the June 2002 issue. Here it is:
This CD of musical explorations, given voice by Guarino's trumpet, percussion, keyboards and Steinerphone is more akin to one of Robert Rich or Vidna Obmana's aural journeys than a jazz recording. A single hearing could throw the listener for a loop because new age music listeners are used to hearing instruments like keyboards, harps and flutes in the lead parts. The Steinerphone is an electric trumpet hooked up to a synthesizer, thus offering more varieties of sound than trumpet alone does, The title and compositions were inspired by Guarino's studies of Eastern spiritual systems, particularly Taoism and Buddhism. You can hear this influence in the minimalist style of his compositoins and the changing moods of the pieces when bursts of energy and flashes of insight give way to calm and serenity. Where many ambient instrumental recordings set a deep tone and weave many subtle layers through it, Guarino is ever the chameleon, tracking a faster vision here, a quiet moment thre. This is one of those riskier journeys on the border between jazz and new age, similar to the work that trumpeter Don Cherry or Yusef Lateef did. Definitely great listening - DL
Here is a review done in The Inside Connection Magazine in the December 2002 issue. Here it is:
It's a true offering of serenity as musician Louis Guarino Jr. takes us into a sense of peace and enlightenment with his CD Spiritual Awakenings. Truly a pleasant surprise, the horn-blowing heavenly sound is welcome in these times of often loud and lewd lyrics. Guarino was inspired to create Spiritual Awakenings by studying Eastern philosophies. Wanting to share his newfound inner realizations, he leads us through a meditation of sorts while breezy and inspiring pieces are both thought-provoking and mesmerizing. From the outset, with "A Conversation With The Spirits of the Mountain," which sets the tone of things to come, we are led into a multi-section musical escapade with the aptly titled "A Voyage Thru The Clouds," at over 10 minutes in length. Guarino is talented and creative, and handles the task of bringing the listener into his tale solely on his music sans lyrics, something extremely rare This is like a soul foot-bath for those whose spirits may be dog-tired in these times. Go seek out Spiritual Awakenings. It's well worth the journey. -Carol Anne Szel
IMAGES OF MOVEMENTS THRU TIME AND SPACE REVIEW
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
SUSPICIOUS DIVERSIONS QUESTIONABLE AMUSEMENTS REVIEW
Chris Cretella and Lou Guarino - Suspicious Diversions Questionable Amusements (s/r, 2016) ****
Suspicious Diversions Questionable Amusements is the result of an excellent pairing of two new Englanders who bring a deep knowledge to their spontaneous collaboration. Guitarist Chris Cretella has studied with (among others) Joe Morris and Anthony Coleman, while trumpeter Guarino cites the friendship and guidance Wadada Leo Smith.
The first track, 'Thunder Plunge' features the trumpet/guitar duo sounding nothing like a trumpet/guitar duo. Cretella's guitar is processed to the point of being an electronic blip while Guarino plays long sputtering tones. It feels very unusual - a true testament to their creativity. Track two, 'Razor Jarts' features more conventional sounds, but the melodic ideas are wholly original. Seemingly parallel in their play, a deeper listen reveals a great deal of interaction and sparks from colliding ideas. Throughout, the duo demonstrates a genuine gift playing off, and listening to, each other. This is one that keeps growing more interesting on each spin.