Saxophonist Marc Mommaas’ 2010 release is his “guitar project”; other than drummer Tony Moreno, the guitars of Nate Radley, Vic Juris, and Rez Abbasi are the sole accompanying instruments as he works through nine songs in just under an hour. It’s a nice, pretty record, and there are two guitarists per track — Radley is a constant presence, and Juris and Abbasi switch off, though it’s hard to tell which one is playing at any given time, since they’re all doing that ultra-clean jazz guitar thing that makes you just want to sit by the fireplace, wearing a thick sweater and smoking a pipe (tobacco only, mind you). Mommaas’ tenor sax and bass clarinet work don’t do much to liven things up. He’s a cool-tempered player with a slightly buzzy tone who tends to linger in the middle of the horn’s range rather than go for rumbles or shrieks, and with Moreno wielding brushes as often as sticks behind him, there’s a real danger that without intense focus on the listener’s part, this album could drift away entirely. Things get somewhat agitated and exotic (Abbasi busts out some Middle Eastern guitar scales) on “Cassavetes Caravan,” and “ASAP” lives up to its title with speedy bebop runs, but those are the album’s last two cuts, and they might well serve as a wake-up call for listeners lulled into unconsciousness by all that’s come before. – Phil Freemanmore »
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