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Mark Guiliana Starts a Rousing New Chapter

A man and his groove

Mark Guiliana
Mark Guiliana's Beat Music, Aug 2013
Now Vs Now: Mark Guiliana, Jason Lindner and Panagiotis Andreu
Brad Mehldau (left) and Mark Guiliana

Screaming horns, wandering bass, shadowy drums and a piano that sounds like it’s being punched. That’s free-jazz, right? Not according to the driving, electronic-music-minded drummer Mark Guiliana, who co-leads Mehliana, a duo with pianist Brad Mehldau; can be heard on recordings by bassist Avishai Cohen and keyboardist Jason Lindner; and helms his own powerful band, Beat Music. On the composed-in-the-moment Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations, one of two new albums Guiliana recently dropped on his brand-new label, there is synthed-out funk, tribal rock, wild, Rhodes-driven jazz and deep, spacey dub. It’s about as far away as you can get from the abstraction you’d typically associate with a free-improv session, and it essentially explains who Guiliana is.

As is clear from the name of his band and label, Beat Music Productions, this is a man whose world revolves around groove. Ask him to play free and he’ll hand you a document of ferocious, unforgettable rhythm. Ask him for an LP of compositions like My Life Starts Now, the other album released in September, and you’ll get a more thoroughly realized version of the same. More than anything, these records argue that the 34-year-old is a leader worth following. A musician with vision. And beats.

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