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Marc Mommaas: Landmarc

Dan McClenaghan By

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In an era of single tune downloads and shortened attention spans, works like Marc Mommaas' Landmarc could be on their way out, facing marketplace extinction. The Dutch-born, New York-based saxophonist has created a nine-song set with a continuity of concept and mood at a time when it's all too common for artists to mix lineups, moods and genres on their CDs, to display their versatility and/or appeal to the download customer.

Mommaas is capable of fire, rage and raw emotion. His work in pianist/composer Amina Figarova's band during her 2009 American Tour added a healthy dose of ferocity and edgy freedom to the the leader's elegance and erudition. But on Landmarc he goes with a more reflective approach—exploring, with spare instrumentation, a cerebral yet always engaging approach to music.

Space is important. On four of the nine tracks it's just Mommaas' labyrinthine tenor sax stories accompanied by Nate Radley's guitar and Tony Moreno's subtly orchestral drum work. Guitarist Vic Juris sits in with the trio on three tunes, while six-stringer Rez Abbasi plays on two more, including sitar on "Cassavetes Caravan."

This set of Mommaas originals breathes. The opening title tune is one of the set's more insistent, full-of-momentum tunes with Mommaas and Radley pushing each other forward. "Folk Song" is a relaxed piece of pastoral reverie, while Mommaas displays the influence of Joe Henderson on "Orbit," delivering a long, eloquent and gorgeously convoluted narrative with his smooth, cool tone.

Like the rest of the set, "Cassavettes Caravan" holds a sense of timelessness, beginning with an unhurried inward musing that shifts into a prickly relentlessness, the saxophone and sitar locked in an exotic dance.

The closer, "ASAP," sounds impatient, with Mommaas blowing hurried notes in, out and around Radley's shimmering chords, while Moreno splashes pastel bursts behind them.

Landmarc is an inspired mix of tenor sax, electric strings and percussion sounds. A beginning-to-end cohesive set that should give a profile boost to a deserving artist.

Track Listing: Landmarc; Folksong; Brush on Canvas; Legend; Little One; Orbit; Patience; Cassavetes Caravan; ASAP.

Personnel: Mark Mommaas: tenor saxophone; Nate Radley: guitar; Tony Moreno: drums; Vic Juris: guitar (2, 6, 9); Rez Abbasi: guitar (4), sitar (8).

Title: Landmarc | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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