Born in Brooklyn, guitarist Tom Guarna began his musical career at age 15, when his father introduced him to the guitar. He has performed and recorded with jazz and pop/rock bands nationwide ever since.
Guarna developed an interest in classical guitar performance and composition at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in 1986, where he studied guitar with Michael Cedric Smith and composition with Robert Starer. In 1989, he moved to Los Angeles to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology. Shortly after graduating, he moved back to New York, playing local gigs and studying with Steve Kahn and John Abercrombie. In 1991, Guarna began working with saxophonist and best-selling author, James McBride (The Color of Water), whose band members included drummer Gene Jackson and bassist Tracy Wormworth.
In 1995, Tom Guarna joined Blood Sweat and Tears and toured extensively for the next three years with that group. Capping off the tour, Guarna recorded an album entitled Bloodlines, with David Clayton Thomas, lead singer of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Since then, he has been busy performing with a wide range of artists including The Yellow Jackets, Randy Brecker, Lenny White, Victor Bailey, Gary Bartz, Fred Wesley, Mike Clark, Tim Hagans, Greg Tardy, Bob Dorough, Craig Handy, Uri Caine, Chris Minh Doky, Buddy Defranco, John Benitez, Gary Smulyan, Joe Locke, E.J. Strickland, Billy Drummond, and the Mingus Orchestra.
In 2005, Tom Guarna successfully completed his much-anticipated first solo record, Get Together, on Steeplechase Records. Featuring organist Gary Versace, and drummer Mark Ferber, this album highlighted Guarna's compositional and interpretive skills. Along with four standards from the American Songbook, four of Guarna's own compositions reflect the influence the classic Songbooks had on his writing. His second Steeplechase recording as a leader, Out From the Underground, features bassist John Benitez, drummer E.J. Strickland, and pianist George Colligan. This follow-up album includes eight original Guarna compositions in the modern jazz vein, and was released in January of 2006. Guarna's third Steeplechase release, Wingspan, returns to the American Songbook with modern interpretations by tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, drummer Willie Jones III, and bassist Paul Gil.