Mark Guiliana is one of the biggest young talents in Jazz — he’s often rated highly in “Best Jazz Drummer” polls, most recently earning top honors for the genre in Modern Drummer magazine’s 2017 readers’ poll. But Guiliana’s talents and résumé expand far beyond any single genre.
After studying Jazz at William Paterson University in his home state of New Jersey, Guiliana began touring and recording with acclaimed Jazz artist Avishai Cohen, who combined Middle Eastern sounds and music from his native Israel with acoustic and electric Jazz. Guiliana also formed the progressive “Garage Jazz” trio Heernt to explore and incorporate other realms of music, including Electronica. Guiliana made a name for himself doing studio session work with a wide variety of artists, including Matisyahu, Bobby McFerrin and Meshell Ndegeocello, who co-produced and played on 2013’s A Form of Truth, an album by Guiliana’s band Beat Music that took his boundless experimentalism even further. In 2014, he teamed up with pianist Brad Mehldau as the duo Mehliana and released Taming the Dragon through the respected Nonesuch Records. The album was full of textural, electronic-based wonderment and earned widespread praise, drawing comparisons to Radiohead and Medeski Martin & Wood.
In 2015, Guiliana’s work with saxophonist Donny McCaslin led to his highest-profile gig yet. McCaslin, Guiliana and their bandmates Jason Lindner and Tim Lefebvre were recruited to record as the band on what turned out to be David Bowie’s final album, 2106’s Blackstar. The group helped shape the album’s unique sound, which was acclaimed for its mix of Electronic music, Alternative and Experimental Rock and Jazz. The band later continued that aural thread and recorded the album Beyond Now, which was released later in 2016 and featured unique covers of songs by Mutemath and Deadmau5.
Last year, Guiliana led a quartet on the album Jersey, which All About Jazz said was “a testament to the expansive reach of his artistic vision.” Guiliana’s new band project is called Space Heroes and it features the double-saxophone tandem of Jason Rigby and Mike Lewis, plus bassist Chris Morrissey.
Guiliana’s Cincinnati tour stop is part of Xavier University’s Jazz music series, but unlike most series shows, it won’t be held at the on-campus Gallagher Student Center Theater. Guiliana and Co. will be appearing at the nearby Music Resource Center Cincinnati (3032 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, mrccinci.org) at 8 p.m.