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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tony Savarino - Guitaring

Tony Savarino – Guitaring
2010, Naked Ear Records
Tony Savarino is a renaissance man among guitarists, moving from musical style to musical style without question or pause.  Something of a regional legend, Savarino has played with almost anyone who’s anyone in the Boston music scene.  His credits include names such as Dale Bozzio, TM Stevens, The Dents, The Rudds, The Montgomerys and Alto Reform School, to name a few.  Savarino has been featured in Guitar World, Guitar Player For The Practicing Musician, the Boston Globe, The Noise and Soundcheck.  After years of playing with and/or in support of others, Savarino steps out on his own with Guitaring, a collection of ten instrumentals and one vocal track that show off Savarino’s range and distinctive talent with an axe in his hand.
Guitaring opens with the eccentrically fabulous honky-tonk guitar work of “Barrelhaus Gutbucket Chicken Pickin’”, with Savarino exploring the distinctive country sound using jazz forms.  There’s some pretty mean Hammond organ work going on in and behind the scenes here.  Savarino doesn’t waste any time in flooring listeners.  You’ll understand early on that you’re in the presence of a virtuosic talent.  “Take One” pairs the guitar and xylophone in a brief duet with a great jazz feel and a strong rhythm section.  “Jericho” is an inspired early rock instrumental that shows the nascent roots of surf guitar struggling to be born in the wash.  Savarino manages to recreate that moment where one style morphs into something new and wonderful and presents it here as if it’s first happening before your very ears.   “Rialto Ripples” is a frenetic, if brief, side trip that’s more like an unfinished idea than a completed piece.
In spite of its name,”Blues For Bb (B Flat)” is more of a jazz/blues hybrid than anything else, and finds Savarino once again counting off paces with a Hammond Organ.  Savarino, who seems to excel in any style he touches, comes particularly alive in this musical marriage, seeming to feed off the organ sound to create magical moments on the guitar.  Savarino picks up an acoustic guitar for “Freight Train” and digs into a blues/roots style that is initially without form.  Savarino explores the musical territory before settling into a rhythm, showing off some wicked guitar work in the process.   “Deep Blue Day” is a dreamy legato rumination that’s dressed in heavy reverb, and is probably the most mundane work on the album. 
Savarino channels a bit of Les Paul on “Holiday For Strings”, playing in a pizzicato style that’s entertaining and humorous.  There’s almost a mechanical quality to the main theme of the song, but Savarino fills the spaces in between with some wonderfully jazz-inspired play.  “Russian Roulette” sounds like it comes directly from a 1960’s spy thriller, blending 1960’s surf rock with a bachelor pad style that’s moody, furtive and full of energy.  “Early American” features the sort of pick work that would make Chet Atkins proud.  The Joe Maphis-penned instrumental is made to look like light work by Savarino, but any of the guitar players out there will tell you this is not an easy piece to tackle.  “Christine’s Tune (AKA Devil In Disguise)” is the only vocal track on the album, featuring Adja Snyder in a solid vocal turn.  The Gram Parsons cover has a classic country feel to it.
Guitaring is undoubtedly a solo guitar album, but what makes it work so well is that Savarino has surrounded himself with first class musicians, and Savarino has the sense to make this an ensemble album rather than a vanity piece.  Guitaring is the sort of album you can’t quite put down, particularly if you’re a guitar player yourself.  You’ll find yourself mesmerized by Savarino’s technical brilliance, but it’s the heart that Savarino brings to each and every song that seals the deal.  Guitaring might just be the best rock instrumental album of 2010.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Tony Savarino at or is available as a digital download from, CDBaby and iTunes.

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