Born: September 12, 1969 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Marc Mommaas, tenor saxophonist and composer was born in Tegelen, Netherlands on Sept. 12th, 1969. He grew up in Amsterdam and since 1997 made NYC his home. His father Henk Mommaas, was a well-known painter/artist in the Netherlands and developed his career in Amsterdam. His mother Carolien Collette is a pianist, opera singer and educator. His grandfather on his mother’s side was a professional multi instrumentalist playing flute, viola da gamba, recorder, organ, spinet and harpsichord and taught at the conservatory of Maastricht. His grandmother on his mothers side was an opera singer and his great grandfather an organ player.
Although always surrounded by music and playing accordion and chromatic harmonica he first became an athlete (swimming). Training ten times a week built up his discipline and concentration while competing all over Europe gave him a taste of the joys of visiting different countries experiencing their cultures. At 16 years of age injuries in his shoulders stopped him in his track and he returned to music. He decided on tenor-saxophone.
His first hero was Ben Webster who he shook hands with at a Sunday afternoon concert when he was 3 years old by climbing on stage to say goodbye and to thank him for the music. His first teacher was Ronnie Rem (an alto saxophonist) who introduced him to Stan Getz, Bill Evans and Charlie Parker, followed by flutist and saxophonist Peter Guidi who became his mentor and introduced him to Coltrane, Rollins and Cannonball Adderley. He also had some lessons from Jasper Blom (saxophonist and educator, teaches on the conservatory of Amsterdam). Coming from a rebellious artist background the self-taught road appealed more to him than the common conservatory route. During Marc's musical study he managed to combine his musical development with a university education.
After finishing his education (Master-degree in Comm. Science/Business/Economics at the University of Amsterdam, 1995) he visited New York City to continue his musical career. There he studied with wellknown musicians David Liebman, Garry Dial, and Dick Oatts. He returned to Holland where he continued to work as a freelance musician. After receiving two grants (Stichting Podium Kunsten, Prins Bernard Cultuur Fonds/Anjer Fondsen, 1997) he returned to New York where he continued his musical development by participating in master classes and studying composition, harmony and piano with Garry Dial who became his main mentor. Not ready to return to the Netherlands Mommaas extended his stay by applying at the Manhattan School of Music. He received a full scholarship (2000) where he pursued his Master's in Jazz Performance and upon graduating was awarded the 'William H. Borden Award' (2002), given to one student out of the graduating class for outstanding achievement. He also participated in the Lake Placid Seminar (1997) and the Aspen Snowmass Jazz Sessions (2001) for which he received full scholarships.
New York City became his home from where he would expand his wings. He frequently tours Europe, Scandinavia and Canada with different formations and tours on a regular basis with his band Global Motion, making his first recording as a leader in 1999. In 2002 the renowned percussionist/drummer from New York City, Tony Moreno joined the band. Global Motion also includes alternating bass players John Hebert from New Orleans and Jay Anderson from New York City, and pianist Nikolaj Hess from Copenhagen. In 2006 Balance was released by Sunnyside Records, a long anticipated duo recording with Nikolaj Hess which received critical praise. The third release by Sunnyside records and fourth release as a leader is Landmarc, a guitar project including three guitarists, Nate Radley, Vic Juris and Rez Abbasi, and on drums Tony Moreno. Compositions are written without bass function and is a testament to the depth in Mommaas’ rhythmic language.
Mommaas’ goal in his art form has always been to create boundless freedom of expression, not restricted by any technical or intellectual limitations. Balancing harmonic depth, a natural talent for melody and an endless pallet of rhythmic colors Mommaas has created his own sound both as a performer and composer. As an artist he feels the importance of connecting with his environment by presenting a musical language that is in balance with the time we live in. He attracts students from all over the world and is co-founder of HJW (Hudson Jazzworks) and NYJW (New York Jazz Workshops).
“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.” - By Eugene Holley (2010)
Awards:William Borden Award, Manhattan School of Music.
Global Motion is always in stylistic motion, spanning bop, ECM-esque soundscapes and free-form chamber dreams. ~By Ed Enright (Downbeat 2004)
Ofcourse, improv versus composition isn't a battle to be won or lost. Sometimes the two thrive as equals. Witness tenor saxophonist 'Marc Mommaas' Global Motion (Sunnyside), a finley crafted and uplifting example of a progressive-but-not-precisely-avant-garde jazz aesthetic. Mommaas is a gifted tenor saxophonist, ... and a writer of intricate and pleasingly unpredictable tunes. On 3458 and African FBI, Mommaas seems to delight in subverting convention, especially in regard to time. Such metrically complex tunes are only as good as the band wraps its chops around them. Mommaas' crew ... does the material justice, interpretating its quirks with grace... The music has its own nearly classical beauty. ~By Chris Kelsey (JazzTimes 2004)
For the last two decades Sunnyside has showcased some of the best and brightest jazz musicians on the scene. This new recording is no exception. It heralds the sound of the 21st century. ~By Eugene Holley (SunnySideRecords 2004)
As the overall concept and execution of this album might spur notions of traversing rolling hills via winding country roads -- at an abnormally high speed, that is! Overall, Mommaas possesses a fluid attack, enhanced by a velvety tone and his bop-induced soloing escapades ~By Glenn Astarita (2003) All Music Guide
Another is 3458, a memorable theme over shifting meters with some wonderful playing by Hess (a real find) followed by a remarkable sax solo where Mommaas begins as if awakened from a dream, becoming slowly more alert as his lines become sharper and more declamatory. ~By Joshua Weiner (2003) All About Jazz NYC
A fearless improviser on both tenor and soprano, Mommaas had the ability and sense of spontaneous composition to start from almost nothing and build solos that were alive with energy and commitment, fairly bristling with power ~By John Kelman (2005) All About Jazz, Ottawa Canada
“........If it sometimes seems that each passing month brings forth another interesting tenor saxophone voice, then assign February 2009 to Marc Mommaas. Although he has been in New York for 12 years and is a player with a distinctive, deft, edgy concept, he has remained under the radar. Even in a band where individual identities are secondary to overall ensemble purposes, it was impossible not to notice that every Mommaas solo was surprising, with ideas that seemed unrelated to Figarova’s structures until they tied back into them. In the second set the band played three pieces from September Suite: “Rage,” “Trying to Focus” and “When the Lights Go Down.” Mommaas’ encounter with “Rage” was profound. His solo was deceptively quiet, a reluctant rage, a contorted rage, rage as suffering and bafflement. Only a boldly creative tenor saxophonist would have come up with it.” ~By Thomas Conrad (2009) Jazztimes
“Marc has a strong, warm tone on tenor and the duo work together with an almost telepathic empathy. Marc appears to have all of the songs here, yet both musicians are an integral part of the duo. Amissirac is a sublime ballad that begins with stark piano as Marc's robust tenor builds to a grand display on slow-burning power, with a beautiful, bluesy solo from the piano. Marc plays solo sax on two tracks and sounds well. His rich, warm tone and robust execution are superbly recorded, he sounds mighty fine just by himself. Although much of this is laid back, I found this disc to consistently touching, quietly engaging and delicately inventive. “ ~BLG, Downtown Music Gallery (2007)
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
For private lessons or lessons online please visit: http://www.mommaas.com/Teaching.html Founder of: Hudson Jazzworks http://www.hudsonjazzworks.org New York Jazz Workshop http://www.newyorkjazzworkshop.com
20+ private students in US and Overseas. 2009 Artistic director Hudson Jazz Works (ongoing) 2009 Masterclass Conservatory Madrid 2009 Annual ‘Hudson Jazz Workshop’ including David Liebman and Armen Donelian, NY 2009 Rhythmic Masterclass with Tony Moreno, New York Jazz Workshop, NY 2008 Annual ‘Hudson Jazz Workshop’ Duo Workshop including Armen Donelian, NY 2008 Master class / The Washington University of St. Louis, Missouri 2008 Artistic Director New York Jazz Workshop (NYJW), NY (ongoing) 2007 Artistic Director Westchester Jazz Workshop (WJW), NY 2007 Clinic / Rhythmic Development, JazzImprov Festival/Conference, NYC 2007 Master class / Music and Typography, Fashion Institute (FIT), NYC 2007 Master class / guest artist Conservatory of Amsterdam, NL 2007 Master class / guest artist Rhythmic Conservatory, Copenhagen, DK 2007 Master class / Composition, New York University (NYU), NYC 2007 Annual ‘Hudson Jazz Workshop’ Duo Workshop including Armen Donelian, NY 2007 Saxophone and Rhythmic Development Master class, Western Carolina University 2006 Saxophone and Rhythmic Development Master class, Arhus Conservatory, DK 2006 3 day Combo Master class, Rhythmic Conservatory of Copenhagen, DK 2006 Master class / Saxophone Class, Western Carolina University, NC 2006 Master class / Rhythmic development, Appalachian State University, NC 2006 Master class / guest artist, UNCA, North Carolina Rhythmic development class at NYU, NY 2005 Master class / guest artist William Patterson University, NJ 2005 Master classes Odense Conservatory, DK 2004 Master classes / guest artist, Conservatory of Amsterdam, NL 2004 Master class (odd/mixed meter), Manhattan School of Music (MSM), NYC 2004 Master class / guest artist, UNCA, North Carolina. 2004 Ensemble Class, Manhattan School of Music (MSM), NYC 2003 - 2005 Coordinator Jazz program for Landmark/Coalition High School in NYC 2002 - 2003 Taught and assisted in development of pioneer Jazz program for Landmark/Coalition High School in NYC 2003 Master class/guest artist, CSU Summer Arts, California 2003 Master class/guest artist, UNCA, North Carolina 1999 - 2004 Master class/guest artist Rhythmic Conservatory, Copenhagen, DK. (repeats yearly)