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The music flowed naturally from the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet

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Tuesday October 25, 2016

From The Financial Times

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, Ronnie Scott’s, London — review
The music flowed naturally in this gig from the drummer and his band
By: Mike Hobart

Contemporary left-field jazz likes to pepper its narratives with historical references. At this gig, featuring a sax and rhythm quartet led by drummer Mark Guiliana, light polyrhythmic chatter was set alongside boogie-down shuffle and hi-hat wizardry alongside Art Blakey-like stubby press rolls. But these were passing moments to savour amid a conceptual approach that mingled modernist roots with the precision breaks and tricky grooves of the post-drum-machine era.

That the music flowed naturally was down to a tight compositional framework and the focus of a band playing with confidence at an end-of-tour gig. Each piece changed shape and juxtaposed the dense textures of classical and jazz with the simpler harmonies of alt-rock and pop. The dynamics were supple, understated and, by the second set, delivered with zest and bounce. And even though a tricky unison line or bash of drums lay in wait, solos were pushed to the edge.

The evening opened with a shuffling samba that moved from sax slow-burn to piano extravaganza and ended with a thump. A bass drone followed, underpinned by polyrhythmic swing, but the beat tightened and it altered course. Then stark, dark-hued piano introduced the complex “Mayor of Amsterdam”, featuring stately bowed bass, urban grooves and more besides.

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