For the past decade, guitarist Tom Lagana has been quietly carving out a niche on the DC-Baltimore-Annapolis jazz scene, with occasional forays into Richmond (VA) and Philadelphia. On Schematic, Lagana makes a strikingly original statement with a potent rhythm tandem of drummer Todd Harrison and bassist Tom Baldwin along with special guests George Garzone on tenor sax and trumpeter Dave Ballou.
As a follow-up to 2002’s Patuxent, Lagana’s latest has him stretching out more authoritatively and finding his own voice. From his rhythmically inventive take on the jazz standard “All Or Nothing At All” to a letter-perfect reading of the challenging Thelonious Monk number “Evidence” to a sublime rendition of Bill Evans’ gorgeous “Re: Person I Knew,” Lagana and company show their deep understanding and reverence for the tradition while putting a fresh spin on those jazz staples. In the guitarist’s original material, he stakes out more personal territory. The urgent title track is a prime example of the Lagana in unbridled free bop mode. The gentle nylon string acoustic offering “Lauren’s Song” showcases a wholly different aspect of his musicality.
As a classical guitarist, Lagana was a guest artist at the First World Guitar Congress in June 2004 at Towson University and participated in master classes with Ralph Towner, Dusan Bogdanovic, The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and the Brazilian Guitar Quartet. In 2005, he was invited to the Long Island Guitar Festival to perform for classical guitarist/composer Carlo Domeniconi. While earning a masters degree at Towson University, Lagana was awarded second prize in the prestigious Sidney Lieberman Competition. Lagana was the first guitarist to be recognized in the history of the competition.
In 2008 Lagana was featured with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna (VA). Composer David Del Tredici lauded Lagana’s performance on the tenor banjo in his Final Alice, a 72-minute piece based on the composer’s affinity for Alice In Wonderland. Recently Lagana has performed with the York Symphony, Richmond Symphony, and National Symphony Orchestra.
Judging from the quality of Schematic, versatile guitarist/composer Tom Lagana will be on the radar for some time. An inspired outing with absolutely no filler from start to finish, Schematic is the Tom Lagana album to make guitar aficionados and the jazz world in general sit up and take notice of talent deserving of wider recognition.