When the long-playing album format debuted in the fifties, the idea of an overall musical concept was the main impetus behind its creation. The Dutch-born, New York-based, tenor saxophonist/educator Marc Mommaas, who JazzImprov magazine cited for his “use of clipped phrases, upward sweeps, intervallic leaps and approximations of the human voice,” understands the thematic heritage of the album. His latest CD Landmarc features a guitar-centric lineup consisting of Nat Radley, augmented by fellow six-stringers, Vic Juris and Rez Abbasi, and backed by long-time drummer Tony Moreno.
You’ll notice that there’s no bassist listed. That’s deliberate. Mommaas’ latest group grew out of his duo with Moreno, which grew to a trio with the addition of Radley, with Juris and Abbasi added for their color and contrapuntal contributions. “The concept of the CD is about independence of time with the sole purpose of widening the gates towards a deeper form of interaction and storyline development,” say Mommaas. “It is the artist’s mission to develop and protect [the concept of] freedom and to express the contrasts of life.”
Mommaas’ serpentine sax inventions – aided by the bluesy, spacey and swinging plectral prowess of Juris, Abbasi and Radley, and buoyed by Moreno’s lickety-split drumming – intricately delivers a devilishly delightful nine-track CD that does indeed translate a virtual Rosetta Stone of rhythms, harmonies and melodies into real life stories. The leadoff track and title selection swings with a whirling dervish of interlocking meters, as does the polyrhythmic “Legend,” “Patience,” “Brush on Canvas” and “ASAP.” “Folksong” is a plaintive work based on Keith Jarrett’s “My Song,” contrasted by the ballad “Little One” written for the leader’s daughter, and the Indian inspired “Orbit.” “Cassavetes Caravan” is a sectional piece that, according to Mommaas evokes, “a slow moving caravan in the heat of the Sahara desert; steady, in no hurry to arrive any time soon but with a stubborn and relentless persistence to reach its chosen destination. In combination with the second section this piece emulates a suspenseful energy; hence the connection with the legendary works of director John Cassavetes.”
The cinematic syncopations on Landmarc are the product of Marc Mommaas’ grand and inclusive musical vision. Born in Amsterdam in 1969 to a mother who was an opera singer and pianist and a visual artist father, Mommaas started saxophone lessons at a young age, and his main inspirations were Ben Webster, Joe Henderson and John Coltrane. He received his Masters in Communication Science/Business in the Netherlands, moved to New York in 1997, where he studied saxophone with Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman. He received a full scholarship from the Manhattan School of Music, where he pursued his Masters in Jazz Performance and was awarded the William H. Borden Award, given to one graduating student for Outstanding Achievement. In New York, Mommaas has established himself working with some of the city’s finest musicians, including Armen Donelian, Rez Abbasi, John Hebert, and Tony Moreno. His CDs as a leader include: GMTRIO (Calibre, 1999), Global Motion (Sunnyside, 2003), and Balance (Sunnyside, 2006). A co-founder of the New York Jazz Workshop School of Music, Mommaas has taught at NYU and Western Carolina University. He has participated in the Lake Placid Seminar, the Aspen Snowmass Jazz Sessions, and, most recently, at the 3rd Annual Hudson Jazz Workshop.
Now Marc Mommaas finds himself at the zenith of his musical powers with Landmarc, a recording that best exemplifies the kind of “tradition in transition” artistry that modern jazz is all about. “It is the artist’s goal to translate the emotions, ideas and energy that we live in into an uplifting, sincere and powerful sound with relevance.”
released March 30, 2010
Marc Mommaas - tenor saxophone, composer
Tony Moreno - drums
Nate Radley - electric guitar
Vic Juris - electric guitar
Rez Abbasi - electric guitar, electric sitar