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Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet

Blog
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet

12.06.2017

Written by Cem Kayıran

Illustration by Saydan Akşit

Considered as one of the most talented drummers of today, Mark Guiliana took stage as a guest of Akbank Jazz Festival with his jazz quartet. Involved in many exciting collaborations during his career, Guiliana is also known with his performances and recordings where he masterfully blends the acoustic drums with various electronics.

Mark Guiliana, who has worked with names such as Avishai Cohen, Brad Mehldau, Gretchen Parlato and Matisyahu for both recording sessions and tour performances, was also in charge of the drums for David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar. With his unique and bold style, Guiliana is always a great pleasure to listen to and accordingly; he has been praised by various music press as one of the top active drummers.

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet’s first and only recording, Family First, was released in 2015 with Beat Music Productions label, which was also founded by Guiliana himself. Consisting of Jason Rigby on the sax, Chris Morrissey on the bass and Shai Maestro on the piano; Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet serves polyrhythm, impressive syncopations and a rare sound with integrity overall. Guiliana wrote all music except one track for Family First and he was also the producer of the record.

Aside from being a musician and a producer, Mark Guiliana, who has performed on various stages in Istanbul with different projects, also is a teacher of the drums and he released a book named Exploring Your Creativity on the Drumset last year from Hudson Music. 

About his inspirations:

I do my best to take inspiration from everywhere, of course my musical inspirations are quite diverse, from Bob Marley to John Coltrane and Kurt Cobain, but also to non-music influences whether it is literature or a movie that I enjoyed, hanging out with my family. My most successful musical artistic endeavours have occurred when I have been an honest assimilation of all of my influences.

About Beat Music Productions:

The biggest reason that I created the label is to have a reliable output for my various projects, on a more traditional setting I am not sure a traditional record label would be interested in releasing both my electronic and my acoustic output. It is important for me to have an outlet for all of this material and to know that as I am making something I don’t have to worry about where it will appear or who will put it out, so it is a very confident feeling to know that there will always be a means to release this content.

About his collaboration with Avishai Cohen:

With Avishai, it was an incredible experience: I met him in 2001, we started playing around New York, but with the touring band we didn’t start till between 2003 and 2008, we made six records together. It was an incredible learning experience, I owe him a lot, he was the first guy who believed in me and brought me on the road.

About his songwriting process:

I work on a Wurlitzer at home. I do utilize the computer as well, especially more for the Beat Music stuff. It’s almost as much about timbre as it is the other elements. The sounds you discover will affect the compositional choices. But for this new band, which is purely acoustic, I can no longer hide behind a really cool synth pad or beautiful melodic voice. It’s a fixed palette, so I actually try to use very corny sounds when I’m making the demos so I don’t get attached to the sounds. If I can like something with those cheesy demo sounds, I know I’ll be a lot happier when the guys are playing it.

About the influence of Zach Danziger:

Zach’s a huge influence on me and he’s one of my best friends and we hang out all the time. What drew me to him was his drumming. But after we became friends, I got a peek inside his work process. It’s incredible – he’s the hardest working guy I know and I know a lot of hard working guys. I look up to him in a many ways and he has such conviction in his music making process. Everything that comes through him as a drummer or a producer has his stamp on it but not in an abusive way. It’s always appropriate. I think he’s always at the cutting edge.

He and Jojo Mayer – for me – were the first guys that prove that you could emulate the electronic world. I loved that music so much, but I was having a difficult time connecting it to my acoustic drumset. Seeing those guys play gave me the confidence to take a road that is worthy of exploring.

About the odd meters in his drumming:

The reason I’ve spent so much time odd meters is that I was in groups that played songs in odd meters. It’s difficult to practice them without context. I did a little bit of that when I was in college where I would say, “Let’s work on playing in seven today” and figure out different ways to dissect it. But it didn’t become natural until I was in musical situations that demanded me to be fluent in odd meters. The advantage of that was being able to think about music and not numbers.

About his involvement in David Bowie’s Blackstar:

I’m not sure it could have gone better, actually. And I have to include Maria Schneider in the conversation: it was a true collaboration of theirs. David was there for every step of the way, and it was definitely apparent that he was committed 100%. There’s no mistake why he is who he is.

About the time he creates for himself during tours and recordings:

I certainly have time to relax and that is a big priority to make sure I have time to relax. For me the most important thing in my life is my family. Actually, Gretchen… she is my wife and we have a son, his name is Marley and he is one and half years old and pretty much any spare moment outside working and creating is spent with him. For me it is very important to find that balance and I am grateful to be able to have so much family time.

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