Mark Guiliana w/Shai Maestro, Jason Rigby, Chris Morrissey: the sound of listening
Modern Jazz / Indie Jazz
premiera polska: 2023-03-08
kontynent: Ameryka Północna
opakowanie: Gatefoldowe etui
The new album from one of the most influential, virtuosic and commanding drummers of our time, featuring Shai Maestro, Jason Rigby and Chris Morrissey.
Following his acclaimed quartet albums ‘Jersey’ and ‘Family First’, this third release is everything you’d expect from Mark Guiliana, whilst taking the music in new directions we’ve never seen from him before. In complete contrast to his latest BEAT MUSIC! Work, ‘the sound of listening’ (intentionally lower case) is a deeply honest and expressive album by a musician who knows where he’s headed and what he wants to say with people he deeply trusts.
The title and idea behind ‘the sound of listening’ is taken from the book ‘Silence’ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, which considers, as Mark explains, ‘the inner silence required to truly observe the world.’ In ‘the sound of listening’ the entirety of compositional breadth of Mark’s acoustic and electronic influences is brought together, interspersed with miniature vignettes in a unified voice: the album speaks of Mark’s own journey and thinking with his relationship to music – to see the world and his presence within it through a zoomed out lens, where differences are unified and perspectives aligned.Track titles including ‘a path to bliss’, and ‘the most important question’, reflect Mark’s passionate response to his own exploration and path to serenity, which takes centre stage in this meticulously thoughtful, introspective album.
Over the course of his career, Mark has built a vast cult-like following for his own projects as well as with key collaborators including Avishai Cohen, Brad Mehldau, Gretchen Parlato, Meshell Ndegeocello, the late great David Bowie, and more recently St. Vincent. ‘the sound of listening’ reaffirms his authority as an artist where the expectation is there’s no expectation.
All About Jazz
There is something tantalisingly out of reach on the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet's The Sound Of Listening. It is not "difficult" music, but it is cryptic. After multiple replays the code remains unbroken. It seems something important is going on but… what exactly? It is rather like encountering Guiliana's fellow New Yorker, tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur for the first time. The music is not alien, but there is something deeply different about it.
Coincidentally, Guiliana's pianist on this, the Jazz Quartet's first album since 2017, is Shai Maestro, once a member of Tzur's band. Maestro was replaced by Fabian Almazan on the Jazz Quartet's second album, Jersey (Motema, 2017), but he was the pianist on the group's debut, Family First (Beat Music, 2015), whose lineup—completed by bassist Chris Morrissey and tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby—returns for The Sound Of Listening. Everybody except Morrissey doubles on other instruments. Maestro mainly plays acoustic piano, but adds mellotron, Ampli-Celeste (another electromechanical vintage keyboard) and Fender Rhodes. Rigby mainly plays tenor saxophone, but adds bass clarinet, clarinet and flute. Guiliana plays regular drums, synthesizers and percussion.
With Tzur, the musical code is easy to break: it is jazz played through the paradigm of classical Indian raga, led by a saxophonist whose primary formative influence was the great Dexter Gordon. Once one gets that, one gets everything. With Guiliana it is not so simple. There is something about the beats, something about the sonic palette, something about the way the group interacts. There is a bit of minimalism, a bit of classical contemporary, a bit of electronica. There is gentle lyricism and there is urgency, sometimes both on the same track. All of this combines to take the music elsewhere. But… where exactly?
The best art., be it visual or musical, is often above and beyond verbal description or cognitive analysis. What you see, or what you hear, is what you get. If it feels good, take it on trust—and Guiliana, if for no other reason than he wears a lapel badge bearing a photo of John Coltrane on his jacket, is to be trusted. Best to let go and enjoy The Sound Of Listening for what it is: compelling, mysterious jazz.
By Chris May
At first, it’s hard to believe the press release for this album. Its rich sonic fruit apparently sprouted from silence. Its shapeshifting sonic sculptures are carved from deep serenity. Listen again, however, and it starts adding up. With inner silence, Mark Guiliana has observed the world’s contradictions. Then played them.
“the sound of listening” is Guiliana’s third release as the leader of a quartet. The drummer is joined by Shai Maestro (keys), Jason Rigby (woodwind) and Chris Morrissey (bass). The idea for the album is taken from “Silence”, a book by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh. It’s an introspective record that fuses acoustic and electronic influences with contemporary compositions and free improvisations to travel long distances via twisting routes.
That sense of constant change is exemplified by the 'most important question.' A pulse from bass and drums creates a foreboding, dark backdrop. Rigby’s saxophone roams, uncertain. After one minute, a ballad feeling rises. Morrissey’s bass drops into the center of the sound. Then Maestro’s piano drives the track in a dancey direction, before the saxophone twirls and chatters. By the end, the darkness has transformed into bright light. Guiliana’s percussion is exquisite throughout.
The album’s shifting landscapes and contrasting climates are partly the result of frequent changes in instrumentation. Rigby plays clarinet, bass clarinet and flute on 'the courage to be free.' Maestro adds mellotron and ampliceleste. Guiliana switches to synth. Electronic elements add a space-travel vibe. It’s one of four short, organic pieces scattered across the record like wildflower seeds.
'continuation' is the last track, and its African rhythms meet Eastern harmonic ideas from Maestro’s piano. It’s a fitting ending to an album that covers a lot of emotional and musical ground. It’s fun, basically. Perhaps even Zen masters like to cut loose now and then.
For silence to inspire such a profusion and variety of tones and timbres is a neat trick. “the sound of listening” is a record characterized by remarkable openness, honesty and instinctiveness. By staying rigidly faithful to his own vision and voice, Guiliana allows the music to roam and change its spots freely and widely. That might seem like a contradiction. But it’s the truth.
By Matty Bannond
jazztrail.net * * * * 1/2
Drummer/composer Mark Guiliana’s third recording with his notable quartet reinvents the formula presented by the two previous albums and keeps you on your toes, creating new lines of thought that, sounding complex at times, are never opaque. Known for subverting the norms of jazz as well as merging innovation and tradition to his advantage, Guiliana builds ‘sound of listening’ with eclecticism. Both the album’s title and the ideas behind the music came from the book Silence: the Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Buddhist Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.
“a path to bliss” is the first reflection into serenity via an undisturbed instrumentation that incorporates keys and reeds. The bass throb delivered by Chris Morrissey seems to want to beat faster, and the orchestration gains more layers, sounding contextually unfettered when Guiliana infuses a consistent pop/rock rhythm. This is followed by the soul-searching “the most important question”, which kicks off with a bass pedal point and a frenzy synced melody delivered by pianist Shai Maestro, who doubles here on Rhodes, and English saxophonist Jason Rigby, whose individual expression comes to the fore while drawing on the impeccable rhythmic control of the group. There are multiple fluxes succeeding one another with logic.
That’s also the case with “our essential nature”, a contemporary stunner with colorful language and killer instinct. The piece revels in demanding melodic contours, chordal dexterity, impressive pulses, and chance-taking solos by Maestro, Guiliana and Rigby. The latter blows his horn over a fusion tapestry that includes Latin, electronica and rock elements.
Guiliana’s compositions are mesmerizing. Whereas the delightful “under the influence” presents some mystery between the lines and makes the drums sing more than any other instrument, “continuation” is an Afro-centric celebration that provides the most fun. With the bassist and the drummer laying the groundwork with aplomb, don’t even think about being static.
“everything changed after you left” goes from a spiritual ballad to the gentle swing of a bolero groove. At a later stage, we are taken to pop-rock territory complemented by jazz-immersed improvisation. The kaleidoscope of facets always cohere, even during the shorter electronica-oriented pieces that serve as interludes - the title track, for example, shows the versatility of the group by intelligently integrating synth stabs, mellotron, and drum programming.
Guiliana keeps helping define the contemporary music of our era with a perfect balance between great melodies, stunning rhythms and improvised playing. This album will surprise those who think they have listened to everything this band has to offer.
by FILIPE FREITAS
Mark Guiliana: Drums, synthesizers — 3, 5, 7, drum programming — 7, percussion — 10
Shai Maestro: Piano, mellotron — 1, 5, 7, ampliceleste — 1, 5, 7, fender rhodes — 2
Jason Rigby: Tenor Saxophone, bass clarinet — 1, 3, 5, 7, clarinet — 1, 5, flute — 5
Chris Morrissey: Bass
1. a path to bliss 04:41
2. the most important question 06:17
3. a way of looking 01:59
4. our essential nature 07:07
5. the courage to be free 01:57
6. everything changed after you left 06:35
7. the sound of listening 02:37
8. under the influence 06:34
9. practicing silence 01:40
10. continuation 05:41
wydano: October 7, 2022
more info: www.editionrecords.com
more info2: www.markguiliana.com
- Edition Records (UK)
- Mark Guiliana w/Shai Maestro, Jason Rigby, Chris Morrissey
- the sound of listening
- Data premiery
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