SHOW REVIEW: Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music and the Rockwood Improvisations

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Mark Guiliana @ Rockwood in 2012 // Image via Audio Femme

Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music – the improv-based, experimental group – played Rockwood Music Hall this past weekend, bringing an incredible variation of sounds and styles to the intimate venue. After quieting the crowd with a wash of ambient noise, the group went into some dub/reggae stylings that loosened up the capacity crowd.

Joining the band for about half of the set was eccentric vocalist Jeff Taylor, who showcased an incredible range while presumably creating lyrics on the spot. Equal parts funny, ridiculous, shocking, and puzzling, Taylor’s words were sort of a litmus test to see just how weird the band could get. As he told his stories, which resembled the type of quasi-genius babble you may expect from a disheveled scientist, the band responded, bringing the intensity up and down with Taylor’s words. The ocean of sound would wash up and down the crowd as the set went on, leaving you to marinade on tidbits like his words, “I value my family’s lives more than yours.” Get as deep with it as you please…

The only bit of recognizable music was the sampled rant from “Spirit Animal,” off 2013 Beat Music. Everything else is believed to be created in the moments between 10.15 and 11.30 when the band channeled their thoughts through a musical dialogue with one another. Keyboardist Jason Lindner proved yet again to be the ‘musical universe’ Chick Corea once dubbed him, bringing a variety of sounds to the table that went from 80s jazz-fusion to Warp Records electronica. Saxophonist Jason Rigby dug deep with a few solos throughout the night, dueling with Taylor as the two led the band into their most evolved jams of the evening.

Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music has proven to be one of the more intriguing projects in the NYC jazz scene. The group doesn’t just defy genres, but turns music on its side completely. The talent on that stage could hang with any band on the planet, and hearing them improvise for an hour+ is a thoroughly exhilarating ride if you unhinge yourself for it.

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