Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet Does Jazz Proud

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Wednesday July 05, 2017

From Ottawa Citizen

Jazzfest review: Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet does contemporary acoustic jazz proud
By: Peter Hum

These days, It usually strikes me as quaint at best and gratuitous at worst for a jazz group to have the word ‘jazz’ in its name.

Sure, decades ago it worked for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet and the Jazz Crusaders ‘” although that last group, in 1971, dropped the ‘Jazz’ because they’d gotten less jazzy.

But in 2017? Really? All the cool groups sport cool names like Tim Berne’s Snake Oil, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society or Ryan Keberle and Catharsis.

Well, the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet makes me think I might have to get over this hangup.

The name chosen by the 36-year-old New Jersey drummer for his group is, after all, simply a matter of clarity and contrast. Guiliana is well known in jazz and beyond for his mastery of contemporary hip hop- and electronica-based grooves such that musicians from jazz’s top tier ‘” think Donny McCaslin, Dave Douglas, Brad Mehldau, and Gretchen Parlato, to name a few ‘” seek him out for just that. And then there’s the drummer’s other group, Mark Guiliana Beat Music, that’s lives large in that plugged-in territory.

Meanwhile, 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, if not bass drops and rewinds.

Guiliana, who a few nights before had powered saxophonist Donny McCaslin’s group to electric-jazz glory, was continually sparking with creativity. In both milieus, he was equally tasteful and attuned to the musical ebb and flow on stage.

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