An adventurous jazz drummer, Mark Guiliana has earned plaudits, both for his work as a sideman and as the founder of the genre-bending, electronic-influenced ensemble Beat Music! He initially garnered attention in the 2000s playing with such like-minded performers as bassist Avishai Cohen, saxophonist Donny McCaslin, and guitarist Brad Shepik. He has since gained further acclaim for a variety of boundary-pushing projects, playing with pianist Brad Mehldau for 2014′s Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, playing on David Bowie’s final album Blackstar in 2016, and issuing his own 2017 quartet date, Jersey.
Born in Florham Park, New Jersey in 1980, Guiliana became interested in music as a child, but he didn’t actually begin formal drum studies until the age of 15 with 4Front drummer Joe Bergamini. While in high school, he played in various ensembles, from big band and rock to prog rock and funk. He attended William Patterson University in his home state, where he majored in jazz studies under John Riley and Kevin Norton.
After graduating in 2003, Guiliana joined Avishai Cohen’s studio and touring groups. He appeared on six albums with the band. As an outlet for his other musical interests, he co-founded the “experimental-garage-jazz” trio HEERNT. The group released the full-length Locked in a Basement in 2006. In addition to his work with Cohen and in HEERNT, Guiliana played in session and live capacities with a diverse range of artists including Me'Shell NDegéocello, oudist Dhafer Youssef, Matisyahu, Gretchen Parlato, Brad Shepik, and Bobby McFerrin.
Guiliana issued a self-titled EP in 2010. In 2012 he put together the ensemble Beat Music!, which issued its debut EP later that year. He released the digital album A Form of Truth in 2013. Co-produced by Ndegéocello, the set melded jazz, dub, funk, glitch, hip-hop, rock, and more, with a variety of session players including guitarist Nir Felder, saxophonist David Binney, and four different bassists, including his co-producer.
Later in the year, Guiliana and Brad Mehldau formed the adventurous, genre-blurring duo Mehliana. Their debut offering, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, appeared on Nonesuch in February of 2014. He played on projects with trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist McCaslin before issuing his own Family First in 2015. He then re-joined McCaslin on what would be David Bowie’s last album, 2016′s Blackstar. A year later he contributed to Brooklyn producer and drummer Shigeto’s album The New Monday. Also in 2017, he released his own quartet session, Jersey. The electronic-influenced Beat Music! Beat Music! Beat Music! arrived in 2019 and picked up a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. ~ Thom Jurek