Mark Guiliana: The Sound Of Listening

The drummer presents the results of his pursuit of mindfulness but still finds space for high-octane breaks and mind-boggling metric games


Although ostensibly the third release by Guiliana’s “Jazz Quartet”, the sound of listening is as much a calculated departure as a statement of continuity. With its deliberately lower-case title, inspired by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh’s book Silence, it examines the notion that inner silence is essential if we are to truly observe the world. [NB: above, and in the body of this review, titles are rendered with initial capital for clarity – convention has its communicative benefits too – the editor.]

It’s an idea explored by Nik Bärtsch in his recent writings on attentive listening, and probably best summed up by the memorable aphorism “When you listen, you cannot talk”. Guiliana’s own path to mindfulness involves a process of “zooming out” to view the breadth of his musical output, then synthesising the various strands and constructing a single perspective on the whole.

The results are fresh but reassuringly familiar, and the album should appeal to fans of Guiliana’s straight-ahead acoustic jazz and rock and electronica alike. The opening invocation runs the gamut, from quiet introspection to ecstatic release, and it’s fitting that pianist Shai Maestro, bandmate during Guiliana’s breakout stint with Avishai Cohen, should carry the melody. Rigby’s burnished tenor leads the line on The Most Important Question, a complex but emotionally direct piece brimming with tension and release.

Guiliana is, of course, one of today’s pre-eminent drummers, and he really shows his chops in the high-octane breaks of Our Essential Nature. The mind-boggling ways in which he splits the beats on Under The Influence and Continuation are nothing short of jaw-dropping, and worth the price of entry alone.

Yet the sound of listening is equally a showcase for Guiliana the composer, and the importance of the short interleaving vignettes can’t be overstated. Each has its own compositional rigour and emotional impetus, and each is a vital way-mark in Guiliana’s complex musical mind-map.

a path to bliss; the most important question; a way of looking; our essential nature; the courage to be free; everything changed after you left; the sound of listening; under the influence; practicing silence; continuation (45.00)
Guiliana (d, kyb, elec) with Jason Rigby (ts, bcl, f); Shai Maestro (p, elp, kyb); Chris Morrissey (b). No dates or locations.
Edition Records EDN1210