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Jazz History Online Reviews 'Jersey'

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Thursday January 04, 2018

From Jazz History Online

Too Good to Leave Behind
By: Thomas Cunniffe

MARK GUILIANA QUARTET: “JERSEY” (Motéma 233)
“Jersey” is drummer Mark Guiliana’s tribute to his home state, and like its subject, Guiliana’s quartet has a tough exterior, but contains many surprises just below the surface. The album is all acoustic—a departure from his electronic-based album “Family First”—but the sounds that this quartet creates are far from traditional. On the tightly-wound opener, “Inter-Are”, the solo section starts with an odd sound arrangement as Jason Rigby’s tenor is wedged below Fabian Almazan’s strummed piano strings and Chris Morrissey’s bass. Meanwhile, Guiliana maintains the tension with a rhythmically shifting time pattern. The title track is sparse ballad, starting with an obtuse bass ostinato which reveals itself as the main melodic idea. With Guiliana’s rolling pattern, the piece settles into a rock groove, but soon after, the rhythm stops in dramatic fashion, and the bass ostinato returns. Rigby plays a turbulent solo over an increasingly complex background, but never loses the thread that holds the solo and the composition together. Guiliana wrote five of the album’s nine tracks, with Morrissey contributing two others, with single pieces by Rich Hinman and David Bowie rounding out the set. l like the diversity of the set, but my favorite compositions are Guiliana’s, simply because the quartet seems eager to find new sounds within those works. His “September” is an eerie and mysterious tone poem which benefits from Almazan’s active piano part juxtaposed against the basically static sounds of Rigby, Morrissey and Guiliana. “Big Rig Jones” starts as an amiable swinger, but as on “September”, a solo passage in a different tempo presents a dramatic change-of-pace, before the original mood gradually returns. However, “Big Rig” contains a few more tempo adjustments as it evolves, and it ends in way that is completely unexpected. In a way, the last comment also speaks to the final track, Bowie’s “Where Are We Now”. Unlike the other pieces on the disc, it flows along in straight 4/4 time (although Guiliana does a great job of covering that up!). Although it is less complex that its predecessors, the arrangement still contains several mood changes. However, it saves its biggest surprise for the last minute with the entrance of a chorus featuring Guiliana’s wife, Gretchen Parlato, bringing yet another color to this fine recording. “Jersey” is a brilliant kaleidoscope of an album which should bring continuous joy to listeners on repeated hearings.

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