Mark Guiliana's newest album as a leader - Jersey, to be released in September 2017 on Motema Music - features his compelling Jazz Quartet, with saxophonist Jason Rigby, pianist Fabian Almazan and bassist Chris Morrissey. It's the much-anticipated second album from The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, following up 2015's Family First (and its companion release, Family First: The Alternate Takes).
Describing the Quartet's modus operandi on Jersey, Guiliana said: "Many of my releases as a leader have been driven by electronic-inspired beats and textures, but with Family First and now Jersey, it felt like the right time to present my music in an entirely acoustic environment. So the Jazz Quartet is my humble attempt to make a personal statement using the traditional palette of saxophone, piano, bass and drums. For the band, this lineup presents the challenge: How creative can we be inside this box - how much freedom and experimentation can we find? And I have to say that it's always so exciting to hear the guys play this music in ways I never could have imagined."
The title of Jersey references Guiliana's center of gravity and his geographical roots. Born in 1980 in Florham Park, New Jersey, and raised there, Guiliana first discovered jazz in high school through his first drum teacher Joe Bergamini, graduated from William Paterson University in Wayne, lived for years in Jersey City and Hoboken, and now resides in Madison with his wife, singer Gretchen Parlato, and their toddler son.
"The jazz quartet that played Sunday night at La Nouvelle Scène delighted the packed house with strictly acoustic music that throbbed with imagination and refined but rugged playing." - Peter Hum of The Ottawa Citizen (on the Quartet's performance at the Ottawa Jazz Festival)
Beautifully produced by Guiliana, Jersey brims with an energized cohesiveness. "We recorded the album right after a two-week tour of Europe - I really wanted to capture the momentum of the band," said Guiliana. "I'm beyond grateful that Chris, Jason and Fabian are onboard, since they're all such excellent leaders in their own right. As a drummer, I'm a big fan of bass players, and I'm lucky to have played with some great ones. Chris is one of my favorites. He always brings an exciting energy to the music, and because he's also a singer-songwriter, that storytelling sensibility comes out in the way he plays. With Jason, I love his sound and the way he delivers melodies. He's an effortless improviser with a deep connection to the music at every moment. Fabian is the quartet's wild card. He has a unique harmonic and rhythmic sophistication to his improvising that makes for really fun interaction. With these guys, we're always passing inspiration back and forth to each other. We take a lot of chances in the music, developing new ways to play together every night - and that takes trust, a musical and personal empathy. The importance of family was instilled in me naturally just the way I was raised - those sorts of values extend to my bands, and the guys are like extended family for me."
The urgent rhythms of Guiliana at a stripped-down kit launch Jersey via the stylish opener "inter-are," one of six compositions by the drummer, along with the lyrical "Jersey" title track, the atmospheric "September," swinger "Big Rig Jones" and solo drum piece "Rate," an acronymic, virtuosic tribute to drum heroes Roy (Haynes), Art (Blakey), Tony (Williams) and Elvin (Jones). Two more tracks, "Our Lady" and "The Mayor of Rotterdam," are characteristically tune-rich contributions penned by bassist Morrissey. "BP," one of the album's hook-laced highlights, is a piece by Rich Hinman, a guitarist friend of Guiliana. The lone cover is a moving interpretation of David Bowie's "Where Are We Now?" (from Bowie's second-to-last album, The Next Day). "It's a 'thank you' to David, for the incredible experience of working with him," the drummer explains. "This is my way of paying tribute to him, but in an entirely different sonic context from Blackstar."
"Rhythmic interplay and complex layers are key features of Guiliana's style, so these characteristics permeated the entire set. The music is full of surprises, in form and content; in spite of this, the transitions were fluid, even when moving between radically different sections. Sometimes you'd wonder how the music arrived at its current point, so suddenly yet with such ease. Add to this the fact that Guiliana and his bandmates have a gift for intentionally blurring form, and you have an utterly absorbing musical experience, with beautiful twists and turns." - Marlowe Heywood-Thornes in JazzWise Magazine (on The Mark Guiliana Quartet's performance at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club)
More on Mark Guiliana: The artist has become recognized as one of the world's leading drummers, admired and in demand across the spectrum from jazz to rock to electronic music for his rhythmic sophistication, creative impulse and individual sound. He has been in the vanguard of drummers creating a new vernacular on the instrument, blending virtuosity on acoustic drums with artfully deployed electronic beats and processing. Guiliana was chosen as Best Jazz Drummer in the Modern Drummer Readers Poll 2017, while DownBeat Magazine dubbed him a Rising Star in its Critics Poll. JazzTimes aptly proclaimed: "Guiliana, a technical master with a rare sense of musicality, has over the past decade become one of the most influential drummers of his generation." Along with leading his own groups - the acoustic Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet and electronica-minded Beat Music - the drummer has appeared on a string of acclaimed recordings with others. The verve and precision of Guiliana's drumming was a prime mover of Blackstar, David Bowie's multiple GRAMMY Award-winning swan song. Guiliana teamed with keyboardist Brad Mehldau as the duo Mehliana for the Nonesuch release Taming the Dragon, and he has also collaborated with such artists as saxophonist (and Motema label mate) Donny McCaslin, jazz legend John Scofield, Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer-songwriter Matt Cameron, neo-soul singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello, guitarist-vocalist Lionel Loueke, bassist Avishai Cohen, reggae/hip-hop artist Matisyahu and jazz singer Gretchen Parlato.
The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet On Tour in Support of Jersey
(All dates with The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, unless otherwise noted)
September 1-Chicago Jazz Festival, Chicago, IL (w/Donny McCaslin Group)
September 2 & 3-Detroit Jazz Festival, Detroit, MI
September 7-Jazz a la Villette, Paris, FR (w/ Donny McCaslin Group)
September 8-Festival Batojazz, Chanaz, FR (w/ Donny McCaslin Group)
October 6-7-Blue Whale, Los Angeles, CA
October 8-Kuumbwa Jazz, Santa Cruz, CA
October 10-Yoshi's, Oakland, CA
October 11-The Fremont Theater, Portland, OR
October 12-The Triple Door, Seattle, WA
October 13-Dazzle, Denver, CO
October 14-Live at the Back Room, Milwaukee, WI
October 15-Constellation, Chicago, IL
October 21-Le Fil, Saint-Eitienne, France
November 2-Cafe Berlin, Jazz Madrid Festival, Madrid, Spain
November 3-Teatro Central, Sevilla, Spain
November 4-Kleine Zaal, Eindhoven, Netherlands
November 6-Jazzclub Fashing, Stockholm, Sweden
November 8-G Livelab, Helsinki, Finland
November 10-Staatsoper Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany
November 11-Rockit Festival, Oosterport, Groningen, Netherlands
November 13-14-Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London, England
November 15-Babylon Bomonti, Istanbul, Turkey
November 16-New Morning Club, Paris, France
November 17-Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam, Netherlands
November 18-Bimhuis, Amsterdam, Netherlands
December 2-Jefferson Center, Roanoke, VA