Many Blessings + Ben Phillips Trio inaugural gig @ Cafe Mustache Mon 4/30 

Monday night April 30th, I'll be playing a double header gig at one of Logan Square's coolest and coziest venues, Cafe Mustache. Going on first at 9PM, I'll be playing the inaugural gig by the Ben Phillips Trio, with Ben on trumpet and Jakob Heinemann on bass. I met Ben when we were both grad students at DePaul together, and he's one of the most exciting trumpet players to come on the scene in a while. His music explores some really unique places, using electronics and looping pedals on his trumpet and mixing unique sounds with very accessible grooves and melodies. I hope you can come out and hear it. 

And, of course, I always love a chance to play with my own quartet, Many Blessings. We'll be playing the second set, around 10PM. We've already had two really fun shows so far in 2018, at the Whistler and the California Clipper, so we're glad to be able to bring our music to yet another great venue for creative music in Chicago. As a reminder, if you haven't checked out our new record yet, please do so here

RSVP on Facebook.

  • Mon April 30th, 9PM
  • Cafe Mustache, 2313 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
  • $5 suggested donation

Two Shows in March + New Video 

My original jazz quartet, Many Blessings, released our debut album, Arroyo, back in September, celebrating with a near-capacity crowd for our release show at the Whistler. Since then, the band has been laying low, so I'm very excited to announce not one, but TWO shows in the month of March, at two of my favorite venues in Chicago: March 6 at the Whistler and March 29 at the California Clipper. I'd love to see you out at one or both of the shows -- we'll be premiering some new music and will be excited to play our first gigs of the new year.

In the mean time, take a moment to check out this video from our release show. It's a newer tune called "In the Dunes" -- it's not on the record, but we definitely had fun playing it, as you'll witness below:

New Album, "Arroyo" Available Now 

Hello!

After a decade of on-and-off activity as a band, my jazz quartet, Many Blessings, has finally released our debut album, Arroyo. Click on over to the page I made for the album to read more and stream or purchase it on any of your preferred formats, or you can stream it in the embedded Bandcamp player below. I've gotten lots of great feedback about the album since its release. We played a super-fun album release show at The Whistler on September 19th; the turnout was great and there was crazy good energy in the room. Thanks to all who made it out to the show, and to those who couldn't, check out the album!

Many Blessings Debut Album Release Date and Show Announced! 

I'm very excited to announce that my original jazz quartet, Many Blessings, will be releasing our debut album, Arroyo, on Friday, September 15th, 2017. We'll also play an album release show on Tuesday, September 19th, at the Whistler in Chicago.

This announcement has been a long time coming. I first assembled a quartet called "Lucas Gillan's Many Blessings" over a decade ago. Ever since then, it's been the central creative outlet for my compositions, arrangements, and ideas about leading a band. I feel like we've developed a special group sound over the years that deserved to be documented on a properly-released record. We spent two days recording at Shirk Studios in 2015, and we're finally ready to release the finished product out into the world. So, mark your calendars for Fri 9/15 (the release date, on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.) and Tues 9/19, for the release show at the Whistler. The album will be released on JeruJazz Records, a Chicago-based label run by bassist Joe Policastro that has been putting out lots of great music lately.

While you'll have to wait until September 15th to hear the whole record, you can stream two tracks below.

 

Gig Alert: Diamond / Gillan Duo at Elastic Mon 6/5 

On Monday, June 5th, I'll be playing a duo set with saxophonist Hunter Diamond at Elastic Arts, as a part of their weekly Anagram Series. Hunter and I started getting together semi-regularly to play as a duo last Fall, and have really enjoyed the process of developing a musical chemistry purely through improvising. We played an improvised set at the Hideout in December (on Hunter's birthday!) and had a blast. Here's a very short clip from that gig:

Earlier this year, I tried my hand at composing a piece for the duo, and it was a challenging but fun experience. Check out the result below:

At Elastic on Monday, we'll play a mix of improvisations and composed music. I'm about to finish grad school, so I've been consumed by school-related concerts and final papers lately. I'm very excited to make some improvised music with Hunter Monday night. We play at 9PM, followed by Stevenson Valentor's Presence Quintet. 

Full event details here.

Spring 2017 Update: School, The Right Now, and a long-time-coming debut 

Hello there! 

Though it has been quite a while since I wrote a news update here, that's not for lack of activity. There's been plenty going on in my little corner of the music world, and I thought now might be a good time to let you all in on it.

Most of my mental focus lately has been consumed by school; I'm set to graduate from DePaul University with a Master's in Jazz Studies in about a month. That means I'm in the thick of writing papers and rehearsing for end-of-the-year concerts. One thing I already got out of the way, though, was my graduate recital. It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun: I arranged four pieces as tributes to some of my favorite drummers, and also performed four pieces with Many Blessings. You can watch the video of my Max Roach tribute, a mash-up of Ko-Ko and Cherokee, below:



Another highlight of early 2017 was the release of The Right Now's debut album, Starlight. I have been subbing on and off in TRN for about a decade, but I only officially joined the band in 2014, so this is the first album that I've been a part of -- I play drums on all 10 tracks, and even have a co-composing credit on a couple. It has been a long, but very fun and rewarding process to work on this music for the past few years and to finally see it get out into the world. On the day the record was released, it was featured on NPR's Sound Opinions, as a recommended "buried treasure". Check out the podcast here! We went on a super fun 10-day tour in late March, and played a sold-out record release show at Chicago's Hideout Inn in April. Also, we just released the first music video from the record, which we filmed entirely on the first day of our tour. Check it out below; the whole thing kicks off with a close-up shot of a drum fill by yrs truly:



And lastly, I'm working on releasing the debut album by my jazz quartet, Many Blessings. All the important stuff is done: I have the CD's in my closet and I'm super-duper proud of how they sound and look. Now, I have to do the work of proliferating it out into the world, which will happen in late Summer/early Fall (exact date TBD). I'm happy to announce that it will be released on JeruJazz Records, a local Chicago label that has been putting out some exceptional music lately. Check out the album's cover art, and a video of one of our newer tunes (which is not on the upcoming record), below:


Luminarts Jazz Fellowship 


Hello! I hope you're having a wonderful 2016 so far. Mine is going pretty well, thank you. I'm hoping to do lots of cool stuff this year (like figure out what Snapchat is, turn 30 years old, and finally try the Japanese restaurant on my block), but I already had a pretty great experience in the first quarter of 2016: I competed in the Luminarts jazz contest and was awarded one of the five $5,000 fellowships. The Luminarts Jazz Fellowship is a program of the Union League Club of Chicago that gives awards to young jazz musicians in Chicago every year.

I got an email about the contest at the end of January and decided to give it a try. I auditioned at the ULCC in February and was very surprised and humbled to have made it to the live finals, along with some super-talented peers of mine. The finals were held at Buddy Guy's Legends on March 9th. Each contestant was required to play one blues and one other selection, so I chose to play a super-slow arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "The Intimacy of the Blues" and a pretty-up arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Bye-Ya." I got to perform with pianist Ron Perrillo and bassist Nick Schneider, who were gracious in reading down my arrangements even though everyone else just played head charts -- thanks Ron and Nick! If you're interested, you can watch a video of the whole event here -- my performance starts at 1:11:00. Major thanks to the Luminarts Cultural Foundation and huge congrats to my fellow winners.

I haven't decided exactly where the $5,000 will go, but the idea is to invest it in my music career. Maybe I'll put it towards buying Elvin's '70s Camco kit from Steve Maxwell's? I'll need to win a few more fellowships before I can afford that though...

Here's hoping for more unexpectedly good news to share in the rest of 2016!

Fall 2015 Update: Records, Gigs, School, New Bands, a Long Walk... 


Hello! 

A lot has been going on in the past couple of months, and I've neglected to post any news on my blog, so I'm going to take care of all relevant updates here in one fell swoop. Take a deep breath... here we go.

Many Blessings In the Studio

 


As previously mentioned on the blog, I took my band, Many Blessings, into Shirk Studios in August for two days to record an album's worth of material. We had a blast in Steve Shirk's wonderfully comfy and great-sounding space, and I'm very pleased with the sounds we got on record. As you can see in the photo, I augmented my standard drum set considerably, adding a second (thunderous) floor tom, second (low and muffled) snare drum, a trashy crashy cymbal stack, and some mini timbales that sound like roto toms, 'cause what's a free-jazz drum freakout without some good ol' roto toms? Everybody really committed to making my music sound as good as possible, and the whole experience was another reminder to be incredibly thankful for the dudes in my band (trumpeter Quentin Coaxum, saxophonist Jim Schram and bassist Dan Thatcher). 

 



Of course, a lot more has to happen before I can write a blog post letting you know about the album's release date: mixing, mastering, producing a physical thing that looks cool, etc. I'm committed to making all of that happen as quickly as possible, so keep checking back for updates.

Terry Bartolotta CD Release
Speaking of updating you about release dates, there is an album I'm involved in that was just recently released: Slow Burn by the Terry Bartolotta Group. This is my 2nd album with Terry's group, and I'm very proud to be a part of it. We had a great time recording at I.V. Labs in March, and the finished product sounds great. You can find the album on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby, so go on and pick it up! 

We played a pair of CD release shows at Andy's on September 11th and 12th, which were super fun. The group, which comprises James Davis on trumpet, Alex Beltran on tenor sax and Joel Kelsey on bass along with Terry on guitar and myself on drums, plays around town fairly often, so keep your eyes on the Gigs page to find out when you can see us next.

Also, check out this nicely-produced video of us at a recent gig playing Terry's tasty arrangement of the old standard, "Skylark."


Recording with The Right Now
 

Scenes from the TRN session

I'm fortunate to be able to play in The Right Now, a great original soul/R&B band staffed by some of my favorite people. I'm always excited to play live with TRN, but I'm even more excited to have my first experience making a record with them. TRN has two great records out on the market, Carry Me Home and Gets Over You, and I'm honored to be a part of creating record #3.

We spent countless hours this summer working out the kinks in pre-production, recording demos and arguing over chord changes and drum grooves, and we started tracking with the wonderful Vijay Tellis-Nayak at Transient Sound in September. We got some great sounds recorded. You can read a heartfelt blog post by TRN leader Brendan about his hopes for the project here. The rough mixes are already getting us pretty excited. We should be done tracking by December, and I expect to write another blog post about the CD release sometime in 2016!

Back to School
The other big news this fall: almost 8 years after finishing my undergraduate studies at Northern Illinois University, I've started grad school at DePaul University. I've wanted to go back to school for my Masters for quite a while now, and the time finally seemed right. I'm very excited to be studying privately and in large ensemble with Dana Hall, an amazing musician, educator, scholar and all-around person. So far, I've been focused on studying the great Max Roach, and I'm looking forward to lots of deep-diving into drumming history over the next two years. It's definitely a new challenge to balance my professional life as a freelance musician and teacher with my studies, but I'm starting to get the hang of it, and I'm confident I'll have it figured out by my graduation date in 2017.

LG3 and LCQ
I've recently added two new pages to lucasgillan.com for a couple of projects I've been enjoying lately, and with which I'm hoping to get a lot busier soon: the Lucas Gillan Trio and the Left Coast Quartet. I'll just leave it at that -- satisfy your curiosity by clicking on those links!

The Murphy Sesh

 


As a freelance musician, it's always fun to land a steady gig with inspiring musicians. I've been fortunate enough to get to play with the great guitarist Lee Rothenberg at Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro every Wednesday since June, as the house band for the jam session. The house set is always a blast, and the caliber of musicians at the jam session is always very impressive. Come on out on a Wednesday, whether you're hoping to jam or just hear some live jazz -- the house band starts around 8:30 and the jam goes until about midnight.





A Walk in the Woods
Besides all of this drumming activity, I checked off a totally non-musical item on my bucket list in August: I went on a solo backpacking trip. I hiked 22 miles of the Ice Age Trail through the Chequamegon National Forest in northern Wisconsin over 2 days. It was a beautiful hike, and I really enjoyed the experience of solitude and remoteness, especially before jumping in to all of the above-mentioned flurry of activity. If you're curious at all about the specifics of my trip, I got the idea from this Backpacker.com article. Enjoy some photos below, and take care 'til the next update.
 

A boardwalk near the (rainy) start of the trek

This narrow ridge is called an esker -- I traversed a few of these throughout the hike

My home for one night

The end of the hike -- Mondeaux Flowage Recreation Area

We're making a record! And playing some gigs! 

Big news here folks: Many Blessings is gonna make a record. Quentin, Jim, Dan and I will be heading into Shirk Studios at the end of August to lay down the tracks for our debut album. This will be my first real album as a leader (I self-released a 5-song EP of my singer-songwriter stuff 10 years ago but I sold about 20 copies of it and there is no evidence of its existence online), so I'm very excited about this. 

To be sure that we're feeling on top of our game as a group when we hit the studio, I wanted to get us a few gigs in the months leading up to the sessions. I was able to line up some dates at two of my favorite venues in all of Chicago, the Whistler and Honky Tonk BBQ. If you've never seen Many Blessings live, or if you have and were looking for a way to check us out again, these are the gigs to come to! We'll be in super-focused mode for these ones. Your presence and energy will help us get to the place we need to be for recording this album. Maybe you'll even get in the credits on the album, who knows. Info below:

          Monday August 3, 9:30 PM (2 sets)
          The Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee, Chicago
          $Free
          Show info page here

          Wednesday August 12, 10:30 PM (2 sets)
          
Honky Tonk BBQ, 1800 S. Racine Ave, Chicago
          $Free
          Show info page here


          

 

Videos! 

After the gig, Jim explains to us, using elaborate hand gestures, just how great the videos are going to turn out

Nowadays, a thriving YouTube channel seems to be as important for a performing musician as a healthy discography, and I must confess that my own channel has been anything but thriving for most of the last few years. That is, until now! You may remember my blog post alerting you about my band's gig at the venerable Chicago music venue Constellation back in March. The gig ended up being a wonderful night of music-making, and I now have the professionally-recorded videos to prove it.

We hired an audio engineer (David Zuchowski) and videographer (Joseph Lim) to document the proceedings, and you can enjoy the finished product on, you guessed it, YouTube. So far, I've posted 3 videos, and will be posting more in the coming weeks. Take a moment to watch/listen to each of them below and subscribe to my channel so you won't miss the rest of them. Also be sure to watch the great videos by the other band on the bill that night, Benje Daneman's Life Stories. It was great meeting and hearing Benje, a New York-based trumpeter and composer who has a beautiful sound.

Shovel

I feel like this tune is a nice encapsulation of the group's aesthetic approach: simple, groovy, a little off-kilter, open for plenty of improvisation, and even a little bit catchy. I named it after the thing I had to do far too often during last year's winter.


Thaddeus

This is a favorite of many of the band's fans (and members); if we had singles, this is the one I'd send to Casey Kasem first. I wrote it over a period of a couple of years. It started with a simple gospel-inspired melodic fragment that I couldn't stop playing on piano. It took me a couple of years to work out the rest of the material that would frame that main motive, and the tune ended up going plenty of other places in the process. Once it was finally ready to play, I decided to dedicate it to Thaddeus Tillman, an old friend from my hometown of Tucson who was a great trumpet player and died way too young.


Neptune Morning

This is the oldest tune in the Many Blessings book: I wrote it as a freshman at Northern Illinois University (that would be Spring of 2005, to be exact). Neptune is the name of the dorm where music majors lived, and I decided to name the tune after my daily experience of getting up and entering another day of my college experience, which could be by turns inspiring, discouraging, empowering or devastating. It's also the only tune from the evening's set that's a straight-up swinger.



Update 5/18/15: Two more videos added!

Palo Verde


This song was 10 years in the making. I composed the main 4-bar theme on Christmas Eve 2004 when a good friend gave me a huge book of manuscript paper as a gift, and I wanted to write something on the first page. The tune always stuck with me, after moving from Arizona to Illinois, and I finally expanded it into a fully-arranged composition on the occasion of Many Blessings' first gig at Constellation, in November 2014. I named it after the Palo Verde tree, one of the defining sights in the landscape of my hometown of Tucson.



Little Growl

The initial seed of inspiration for this song was my deep love for the minor 6 chord: my favorite, for its dark complexity and harmonic ambiguity. From there, I ended up writing a simple 16-bar tune with two sections: the first is gentle and a little melancholy-sounding; the second puts some heavy blues lines in unexpected places. I then took the simple source material and wove it into an extended arrangement. While the song is in A minor, it never quite resolves to the tonic chord where you expect it to (a technique shared by Katy Perry and Daft Punk, as pointed out by Owen Pallet).



For all of the above videos, the personnel is: Quentin Coaxum, trumpet; Jim Schram, tenor sax; Daniel Thatcher, bass; Yrs Trly, drums