Drummer Mark Guiliana has been hustling for a long time. For the last 10 odd years he’s worked tirelessly as a sideman for the likes of Gretchen Parlato, Lionel Loueke, and Avishai Cohen. But in 2014 Guiliana pushed even harder, making a shift toward band leading and songwriting. He has three releases out this year with his name receiving top billing: Taming the Dragon (Nonesuch), a highly acclaimed duo project with pianist Brad Mehldau; Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations (Beat Music), with the group he founded a few years ago; and My Life Starts Now (Beat Music). In anticipation of his shows this Friday and Saturday, December 19th and 20th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery, we caught up with him by phone:
The Jazz Gallery: Congratulations on all of your projects this year. What’s it been like juggling them all?
Mark Guiliana: There were a few moments when it was a little intimidating, for sure. My initial plan was to release four records at once. I didn’t want to be that musician guy who didn’t have label interest and just passively released something on his own. I wanted to make a confident statement and create the idea of an instant catalog.
I learned very quickly that I was in over my head. Four got reduced to two [ed. note: Taming the Dragon was recorded in May of 2013.] Even that had challenges, and each step felt like it multiplied by two. But it was great.
TJG: How was working with David Bowie this year?
MG: I’m not sure it could have gone better, actually. And I have to include Maria Schneider in the conversation: it was a true collaboration of theirs. David was there for every step of the way, and it was definitely apparent that he was committed 100%. There’s no mistake why he is who he is.