Lucas Gillan's Many Blessings
About the Band
Freedom and order. Lyricism and abstraction. Sensitivity and raucousness. Lucas Gillan’s Many Blessings, a Chicago-based jazz quartet, finds comfort in the space between these opposites. Gillan, the drummer and bandleader, composes music that hooks listeners with insistent grooves and memorable melodies even while subverting expectations with outré harmonies and freewheeling improvisations.
An Arizona native, Gillan formed Many Blessings after moving to the midwest to pursue music more seriously. The group served as a creative outlet for his ideas about jazz composition and group interplay. Initially inspired by the chordless quartets led by Ornette Coleman and Gerry Mulligan, Many Blessings developed a distinct style over the past decade that draws on a much broader array of musical influences: punk and indie rock from Gillan's childhood, soul music from his time with national act The Right Now, and avant-garde free jazz from his years on the Chicago jazz scene.
This stew of disparate influences and embrace of paradox emerges on Arroyo, Many Blessings’ debut album. Released on JeruJazz Records in September 2017, the album’s title refers to the dry rivers that dot the landscape in Gillan’s hometown of Tucson. The folk-like melody of album opener “Shovel” is as catchy as a pop tune, but is couched in a more experimental harmonic setting — the chords don’t outline an obvious key center. This tension leads to intense improvisations atop a deep, Afro-Cuban-influenced groove. These varying musical ingredients, as well as an ever-present sense of play and humor, define the group's sound.
Many Blessings has performed at Chicago’s most treasured venues for creative music, including The Green Mill, Constellation, Elastic Arts, the Jazz Record Art Collective and the Whistler. Trumpeter Quentin Coaxum, saxophonist Jim Schram, and bassist Dan Thatcher round out the lineup. As a drummer, Gillan is an active member of Chicago’s jazz scene, having performed with many of the city’s finest musicians, including Matt Ulery, Scott Burns, Victor Garcia, Jim Gailloreto and Terry Bartolotta. He has degrees in jazz studies from Northern Illinois University and DePaul University, and was a 2016 winner of the Luminarts Jazz Fellowship.