The New Cool: Return of Mark Guiliana
Among the parade of jazz stars in the Northwest for the Earshot Jazz Festival (through November 4th), one of The New Cool's favorite drummer's makes a return to Seattle on November 6th. The excitement is already building, and KNKX is giving away tickets!
Mark Guiliana is one of the most beloved drummers in modern jazz, or as the New York Times wrote, he's "a drummer around whom a cult of admiration has formed."
His first album with his early band Heernt was released about a decade ago, and today Guiliana seems to be everywhere. He was seen on the Grammy Awards stage with Donny McCaslin's group accepting awards for their work on David Bowie's final album, Blackstar (the band's album, "Beyond Now," is a tribute to the pop star), and his tours with soul singer Meshell Ndegeocello, rapper Matisyahu, jazz singer Gretchen Parlato (his wife), guitarist Lionel Loueke and others have taken him around the world.
My first exposure to the drummer was the duet project Mehliana with pianist Brad Mehldau featured on mostly electric keyboards on their amazing 2014 album "Taming the Dragon." The collection of beats propelling Mehldau's wash of electronics was a perfect blend of organic sounds and electronic precision, Guiliana's technical skills allow him to play with the exacting consistency of a drum machine while allowing for the freedom of improvisations from groovy to free.
In the 21st century, when electronic rhythms dominate popular music, this is a skill set that many modern jazz drummers are desperately trying to achieve.
Mark Guiliana points to a diverse collection of musical heroes, from jazz greats Elvin Jones and Art Blakey to electronic and hip hop giants J Dilla and Aphex Twin. He enjoys variety of musical styles and settings, a repeated phrase in several interviews with Guiliana is "challenging musical situation," which has led to his popularity among fellow players. He travels with just his cymbals, he says, preferring to take on the challenge of playing whichever drums each strange club on the road has to offer.
Alongside his busy work as a sideman, Mark Guiliana's been leading his own groups for most of his career. He's also developed a platform for getting his music to his fans, the Beat Music Productions label, which has already produced a half dozen Guiliana-led projects.
His most recent visit celebrated the Mark Guiliana Quartet's album Jersey, and now he's unveiling his latest group. Mark Guiliana's SPACE HEROES features the “two horn” front line of saxophonists Jason Rigby and Mike Lewis, and bassist Chris Morrissey. The absence of a chordal instrument leads me to believe the show will be a high-wire act of rhythm and melody.
I've got "Our Lady" from the recent quartet album lined up for The New Cool on Saturday, and you should definitely check out the live SPACE HEROES concert at the Tractor Tavern on November 6th. Hey, if you're lucky you could win a pair of tickets from KNKX!! One thing we know, Guiliana's rhythm is gonna get you.
The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5pm, hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.