Archive for February, 2010

Great CD-release, LANDMARC is out and available.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The CD release at the Corneliastreet Café was great. The place was packed and the band just sounded phenomenal. It is quit an experience to stand on stage surrounded by the sound of two great guitarists. The way Vic and Nate blend and take over roles is just fantastic. Combining this with the suburb brushes of Tony Moreno, which he used through most of the performance, was just amazing. The recording is out and as usual Sunnyside Records did a great job. The packaging is beautiful and they were right on time for the release gig. This group has a unique voice and I can’t wait to get on the road with these guys.


This Sunday the 28th of February, I will be playing again with Tony Moreno’s group at the 55bar in NYC, this time including Brad Shepik on guitar. I have never played with him but have heard him on a few recordings, he sounds great and is highly respected in the NYC scene. I am looking forward to it, stop by if you get the chance.

CD release LANDMARC and Moreno’s group.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I am very much looking forward to two concerts this week. On Thursday February the 18th  I will be performing with a group lead by Tony Moreno including Ron Horton, Frank Kimbrough and Brad Jones, all amazing musicians and all original material. It will be a great one.

(smalls, NYC)


Friday the 19th I will release my newest recording LANDMARC, a guitar project that I am very excited about. The music came out great and includes Tony Moreno, Nate Radley and Vic Juris on the gig. On the recording I have a third guitarist, Rez Abbasi, a killer player and great friend.

(corneliastreet café, NYC)


 If you have a chance please stop by to support the music.


LANDMARC pressrelease and performance on Feb. 19 in NYC

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

It was great to start the year of with Global Motion. In February I will be performing with another group of mine, “the Guitar Project” releasing a new record: Landmarc. I am very excited about this project, here is the press release written by Eugene Holley jr. from Sunnyside Records:



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 Nate 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 with Dave Liebman and Garry Dial.  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 the MSM, William Patterson, 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.”

You can already have a listen in the music page. Enjoy and pre-order if you would like to support the music.


Hudson Jazzworks – summer workshop 2010

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

In 2007 Armen Donelian and I started the Hudson Jazzworks program which this year became a 501(3) non profit organization. It has been a great experience working together with Armen Donelian. Besides him being a great musician he is also a fantastic educator. It is not for nothing that he has been part of the New School faculty since the start of the program and you might know him from his ear training books published by Advanced music. I has been great to work with Armen and as a matter of fact I met him as a student at the Manhattan School of Music in 2000 where he presented a Chick Corea class.


This year is going to be the 4th annual workshop and there are as every year 10 positions available. Last year the special guest was Dave Liebman, ‘my man’ and also my former teacher, this year it will be Jim McNeely whom now that I think of it I also met as a student, at the Lake Placid Music Seminar in 1997.


We worked hard at our brand new website which was a labor of love.  If you are a student interested in the workshop, please go to the site and check it out. We are also looking for donations to support the program and set up a scholarship fund. And as always, suggestions are always welcome, I take any feedback I can get.


If you are a teacher and have talented students that might benefit from our program we would appreciate you pointing them in our direction. If you are a student and interested in our program visit:

Thoughts on Polyrhythm

Monday, February 1st, 2010

As most of us (hopefully) are aware, improvised music moved the last 20 years into a direction where a more diverse rhythmical language is explored. In addition to myself, many of my colleagues and students compose and improvise with mixed meter and polyrhythmic elements.  This to me is a very strong and powerful movement. To have the rhythmic diversity settle on the same level of self-evident expression as our melodic and harmonic language is exciting. It presents itself as a potential vehicle to deepen our art form into a more complete experience in tune with our environment and in balance with life in the ‘now’.


Yet, I can’t help noticing the struggle with closing the gap between complex and exact (may I say Western) execution of rhythmic diversity and it ‘feeling good’. Too often I encounter as a result a large complex rhythmic vocabulary without the ability to make this developed language sound and feel good.  The whole experience tends to lean towards a heavy-handed experience, both for the musician and the audience.


Based on this observation and my personal experience I propose a point of perspective for consideration.  Polyrhythm, originated in Africa is by principle based on a groove, a deeply centered feel in which rhythms overlap one another simultaneously into a multifaceted feel with its soul purpose being to have a great time, to feel good, to possibly alleviate oneself from the hardships of everyday life and slip into a space of comfort and happiness. It is built from the ground up, rooted in the red clay, reaching for the hard blue sky surrounded by dance and energy. It is a natural experience in which formalization has no place and in which there is no space for hipness and mislabeled ‘genius’ head trips.


For an audience in a jazz club in NYC the motive is no different; to be embraced by music that hopefully transcends them into a world of poetry, an enriching journey that makes them feel good, excited and energized.  Complexity and simplicity are both valid and important tools to shape this journey and if combined with a deep connection with the central groove it will inevitably result into a sound that fits our time, a sound that is worth listening (and dancing) to and a sound that we can be proud of.


As always we need to go back to the roots and close the circle. By composing and practicing rhythmic complexity with beauty and soul in the center, in the heart and the mind, we will gain an important and in my opinion essential element towards complete freedom of expression.