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.
While Many Blessings' 2017 release, Arroyo, exclusively featured Gillan's original compositions, their new album, Chit-Chatting With Herbie, showcases Gillan's arrangements of the music of pianist Herbie Nichols, one of the great under-appreciated geniuses of jazz. The Many Blessings album is a track-by-track re-imagining of the 1956 Blue Note LP Herbie Nichols Trio. Gillan was inspired to arrange Nichols’ music for his piano-less quartet because of the common thread he felt with his own music — swinging, melodic tunes permeated by an oddball sense of humor and experimentation. Nichols died in 1963 of leukemia, never having earned the recognition he deserved. His music has gradually gained more attention by musicians and audiences in the decades since his death. Many Blessings is proud to help celebrate Nichols’ centennial and spread his utterly unique music to more ears. Read more about the album and listen to the original Nichols recordings alongside the Many Blessings arrangements here.
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.
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.