Drummer Mark Guiliana switches to acoustic music on his second album as a leader, but his mastery of electronic music remains

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Drummer Mark Guiliana previously worked mostly in electronically-friendly settings, playing a hard-hitting fusion with saxophonist Donny McCaslin and a hybrid of jazz and techno with trumpeter Dave Douglas’ High Risk project, and contributing to the latest album by David Bowie, Black Star. At Jersey (Motema), his second consecutive album as a conductor, he embraces an acoustic sound that deliberately goes against most of these efforts; Yet the music is unmistakably the product of a musician who understands what computers can do with rhythm and challenges himself to translate difficult rhythms with his four limbs. The rushed and heavy rhythms that inaugurate the opening track, “Inter-Are”, suggest the jerky grooves of experimental club music, but rather than endlessly fracturing and folding back, the song opens with a soaring melody blown by tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby, accentuated by pointillist motifs from bassist Chris Morrissey and pianist Fabian Almazan. As the album progresses, the musicians sometimes push towards a more conventional ground; “Big Rig Jones” is a nice shape-changing swinger, while “The Mayor of Rotterdam” brings polyrhythmic rigor to a poplike melody. All the same, the group clearly belongs to the drummer, who operates with fiery rhythmic agility and pushed on the airy and soaring ballad of “September” and the scathing fury of “Our Lady”. As a quartet, Guiliana and her collaborators make catchy and rhythmic music while sailing like a team of boneless conductors from Benihana, tearing everything apart and casually bringing together along the way. v


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