Painters paint, writers write, explorers explore, but jazz musicians do all three as they create sonic landscapes that delight us, that provoke thought and emotion, and that ultimately enrich our lives. Drummer/composer/bandleader Mark Guiliana brilliantly accomplished just that with the 2014 launch of his new record label, Beat Music Productions, releasing My Life Starts Now, and Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations on the same day.
Guiliana, a modern-day, boiling-over, creative tour-de-force, now offers his first statement as a leader in the acoustic jazz realm with the debut recording from the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet - Family First, available on Beat Music Productions on June 4, 2015 (iTunes pre-order date is May 8). The album, which presents eight new Guiliana compositions and a stunning version Bob Marley's "Johnny Was", was conceived around, and composed for, the drummer's new band, featuring long-time musical partners and dear friends, Shai Maestro (piano), Jason Rigby (saxophones) and Chris Morrissey (bass). "This music really highlights the strong bonds and sense of brotherhood and family that I share with these guys," explained Guiliana.
The group's chemistry, commitment and cohesiveness provides for nine breathtaking, fervent episodes of acoustic jazz, beginning with the engaging and exciting rhythmic intro of "One Month", and concluding with the emotional pull and subtleness of the title track. In between, "ABED" swings like mad, "2014" shows the group's ability to play a ballad with a searing intensity, "Long Branch" stirs it up with Guiliana percolating underneath a soaring melody, and Bob Marley's "Johnny Was" receiving the most gorgeous treatment one could imagine.
Guiliana's singular drumset and compositional artistry, once again setting the bar quite high, is on glorious display on Family First, as is the playing of his collaborators. The album encapsulates all the best that these musicians have to offer - abundant beauty, ardent propulsion and sheer love of improvisation.
Although this is a new band, Guiliana shares a deep musical history with each musician. "These guys are some of my favorite musicians and I've been lucky to be building a musical bond with each of them over the past decade," he explains. "I've been playing with Chris in my electronic project Beat Music, with Jason in my first band Heernt, and I spent a handful of great years on the road with Shai in bassist Avishai Cohen's trio."
The sonic landscape presented on Family First is quite different from Guiliana's 2014 releases. This purely acoustic music is presented without edits or isolation, as captured in pristine detail by engineer John Davis at the Bunker Studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While not a tribute recording in any way, this recording is Guiliana's nod to the jazz drummers that have inspired and informed his completely unique approach to the instrument. Guiliana elaborates, "this album embodies the deep inspiration I have taken over the years from my earliest drumming heroes, including Tony Williams, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, and Art Blakey, to name a few."
Guiliana is an acclaimed drummer, composer, educator, and founder of Beat Music Productions. He has earned international acclaim for his innovative and creative style, recognized by The New York Times as "a drummer around whom a cult of admiration has formed." Over the past decade, he has appeared on over 40 recordings and has toured extensively around the world, performing in 45 countries across 6 continents with artists such as Meshell Ndegeocello, Gretchen Parlato, bassist Avishai Cohen and many more, including his own bands Beat Music and Heernt.
In 2014, Guiliana launched Beat Music Productions, his independent record label, as an outlet for his diverse musical vision. In that same year, he was featured on the Grammy-nominated album Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, his duo project with jazz icon Brad Mehldau on keyboards and synthesizers, as well as David Bowie's latest single, "Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)".
Family First, the debut recording from the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, will be released on June 4, 2015 on Beat Music Productions, and there are already projects slated for 2016 releases - a solo electronic recording (an exploration of experimental beats and ambient textures); and a long overdue second album from Heernt, Guiliana's experimental-garage-jazz outfit.