Long Time Ago
BIOGRAPHY As we burst into the new Millennium, our musical crusade to find the leaders of a new movement should leave no stone unturned. Many of the 21 st century's future Coltranes, McCartneys, and the like have yet to be born. But there is no question that just as many leaders of the new era are alive and well and have already been productive in the last century. One such trailblazer, Recording artist Tom Gavornik, has been shaping the direction of Jazz guitar since the mid-1960's. With the arrival of his fifth recording, Just Talking, Mr. Gavornik has captured the imagination of jazz aficionados around the world. His most relaxed, confident, and groundbreaking recording to date, Just Talking will elevate Tom Gavornik's reputation to the highest echelon of composers and performers in the modern age of Jazz. So slip in the disc, sit back, relax, and revel in the knowledge that you are listening to the dawning of a new era in American music. * * * * * Like so many others, Tom vividly remembers the arrival of The Beatles onto the American music scene in February of 1963. The deceptively simple melodies and harmonies packaged into memorable songs captivated the young man. He vowed to save enough money to buy an electric guitar, and upon acquiring the instrument, work diligently at becoming a proficient player. Tom eventually bought a guitar, and in an effort to quench his insatiable thirst for learning, he used to lug it miles and miles around his hometown to watch other players perform. He drove more than one player crazy by standing directly in front of the stage with his own guitar, watching intently, trying to memorize the movements of accomplished fingers along the fretboard. In addition to his jaunts to local performances, Tom studied rhythm guitar with a local teacher and immediately learned the importance of composition and feel over style and flash. As Tom's playing progressed, he began to gig locally 3 or 4 nights a week. His interest in rock guitar was furthered as innovators like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix brought their hybrid blues styles to the forefront of popular music. When Tom came across a guitarist named Jim Stringer, who in Tom's words was "thirty years ahead of his time," he was moved to break out of the pentatonic scales that so dominated his playing to that point and cross into uncharted musical territory. In 1969, Tom formed an improvisational trio called TNT. The three members took the styles of the aforementioned guitarists and melded them with jazzier instrumentalists like Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, and George Benson. Tom continued to hone his chops, and in 1973 he found a teacher and mentor in the incomparable Harry Leahey. The new instructor encouraged Tom to eschew the practice of only learning the standards and instead focus on his own compositions. His first original songs drew comparisons to progressive rock groups like Yes and Deep Purple, and gave a hint of the direction Tom would pursue later in life. He became a firm believer in mastering and incorporating theory without depending on it for his original material. Therefore, he was able to quickly develop his own style and feel, which he continued to hone at the direction of Harry Leahey. In what has become a hallmark of his sound throughout his career, Tom always believed that the music and composition were more important than his desire to show off his chops. While not afraid to compose and execute the most difficult passages, he never lost focus of the ultimate goal, the communication of the song to the audience. The next logical step in Tom's career was to record and preserve his musical ideas for posterity. In the early 1980's, he recorded 2 LP's, Songs of The Harvest (1981) and Finally Home (1983). Both records received substantial local and regional college airplay in the Tri-State area, and Tom quickly became a well-known guitarist in and around New York City . He gigged and recorded diligently throughout the 1980's, and from 1985-89 Tom compiled original material for what would ultimately be his first release. With the release of Playgrounds, Tom turned a corner in his personal and professional life. Over the next two years, he spent time producing other artists and reflecting on his own success. He had purged his personal demons and come to a place of comfort in his musical career. But as he worked with other musicians on their material, he began to grow restless with the need to write and record. The first tune from Just Talking to emerge, "Aftermath," was written in one sitting and captures all of the new energy in Tom's writing. The first single, titled "Children of Promise," has an almost comical feel, and is a perfect illustration of how the guitar can be an effective vocal instrument in the hands of a supremely talented, intuitive player. All of the songs on the new double CD represent what Tom has always believed, that the best music is only about communication between the artist and listener. Just Talking may prove to be the most innovative Jazz release of the first part of the new millennium, an eclectic masterpiece and an example of pure music at the highest level. As we listen to those that laid the groundwork for what we know and love as Jazz, it is only natural to wonder who the next great masters will be and where they will take us. The only certainty is that Tom Gavornik will have his hands firmly on the wheel, and that the journey has just begun.