Marc Mommaas: Landmarc (2010)
The saxophonist's effort is deliberate. His horn is really the only instrument other than the guitar and extrapolates from a basic melody in the same way that an Indian raga develops. Each begins with a statement and development of the linear theme, the aalap, which corresponds to the melody. Melodic exchanges between the lead guitarist, Nate Radley, and the others occur frequently during the architectural progress of the song. While the polyrhythmic percussion cannot and does not seek to mimic Indian taals and rhythms, Tony Moreno does an outstanding job of keeping the rhythmic base aligned to the mood and spirit of the piece. Indian ragas often define times of day or moods associated with times of day. In Mommaas' case, his erudition enables him to create a wonderful interplay between characters and their emotions.
"Brush on Canvas" conjures images of painter and model interacting in fading light. And the action is amazingly animated as Radley and Mommaas dance melodically around one another. "Patience" might describe a struggle at the height of the day that goes on deep into the dusk and thus swaggers between two sets of natural surroundings: brightness and graying darkness. "Landmarc" has a rich and perfunctory character, written in teen taal, and played with wild abandon. "Folksong" breaks the mold and is a tender sketch with a decidedly pastoral flavor, beautifully executed with Radley and guitarist Vic Juris playing contrapuntally.
The arpeggios that ripple through the opening of "Orbit" are executed with mathematical accuracy, but Mommaas soon enters the fray, adding a racy slant the melody. "Cassavetes Caravan," with Rez Abbasi's curved harmony on electric sitar, turns into a pensive affair as a film-like series of images unfolds, matching the oddly minor variations and the ensuing stark counterpoint.
This album indicates that Mommaas may be on to something wildly edifying. And even if he has not quite "got it," the music could herald the opening of the seventh chakrathe one that signifies illumination of the crown of the headfor Marc Mommaas.
Track Listing: Landmarc; Folksong; Brush on Canvas; Legend; Little One; Orbit; Patience; Cassavetes Caravan; ASAP.
Personnel: Marc Mommaas: tenor saxophone; Tony Moreno: drums; Nate Radley: electric guitar; Vic Juris: electric guitar (2, 6, 9); Rez Abbasi: electric guitar (4), electric sitar (8).
Record Label: Sunnyside Records
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde