Sep 18, 2014
One would be hard pressed to find a more intrepid musician on the scene today than drummer, composer, bandleader and educator Mark Guiliana. I first came across Mark as a key member of Donny McCaslin’s band, as the fiery sax plyer, keyboardist Jason Lindner and bassist Tim Lefebvre joined him to make music that stretched the boundaries of jazz. Casting for Gravity was one of my favorite CDs of 2012, and their live performances were truly magical, mixing jazz, electronica and rock sounds to create something wonderful.
But Guiliana is more than an innovative jazz drummer. He’s worked with and recorded with Meshell Ndegeocello, Gretchen Parlato, Avishai Cohen, Matisyahu, Lionel Loueke, Jason Lindner's Now vs. Now, Dhafer Youssef and most notably, pianist Brad Mehldai, with whom he released one of this year’s most intriguing albums, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon.
This month, Guiliana dives head first into another creative endeavor, the launch of his new record label, Beat Music Productions. The label will be flying out of the gate with two new recordings, My Life Starts Now, and Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations. These CDs are excitingly different - one completely improvised and one composed, representing two sides of this artist's striking arsenal.
On My Life Starts Now, the band, featuring Guiliana on drums and electronics, along with Stu Brooks on electric bass, Yuki Hirano on keyboards, Michael Severson on guitar, the voices of Jeff Taylor and Gretchen Parlato, and spoken word from Meshell Ndegeocello, uses fourteen original compositions to explore electronic textures married with, and carried by, provoking beats and rhythmic assertions, often augmented with emotive spoken-word performances.
On August 19, 2013 Guiliana and three of his favorite musicians set up in a small studio in Los Angeles and improvised for the entire day. The results are Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations. All of the music was performed in real time by four distinct musical personalities creating one "voice", in the moment, with no overdubs. This specific configuration, with Tim Lefebvre on electric bass, Jeff Babko on keyboards, and Troy Zeigler on electronics, makes exciting and genre-defying music.
Podcast 445 is my long overdue conversation with Guiliana, featuring discussions of his approaches on these new ventures. Musical selections include :
"The Result of a Ring" and "Strive" From My Life Starts Now
"That DeeJay Chick Works at the Bank Now" and "Bobby Moons Goes to Jail" From Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations
Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana – “You Can't Go Back Now “ from Mehliana: Taming the Dragon