The mmq (mitch marcus quintet) has been a staple on the jazz scene on both coasts for over a decade. Fronted by Tenor Saxophonist Mitch Marcus, co-led by Alto Saxophonist Sylvain Carton, and featuring Mike Abraham (guitar), George Ban-Weiss (bass), and drummers Tomas Fujiwara and Jeff Marrs the group is a unique ensemble, a real band with its own sound. The mmq has penned over 100 original compositions that stretch the boundaries of jazz music all the while being steeped in its tradition. The rhythm section, in addition to providing unrelenting propulsion, are very much a part of the structural force behind the compositions. Equally involved are the Saxophones in the rhythmic foundation that pushes the music forward.
The band originally formed at Indiana University, and honed and developed its unique style in the SF Bay Area over the last 10 years. Now, its members are back in NY, L.A., and SF, continue to be a dynamic force on the National music scene.
The Quintet’s melodic front line – two saxophones and a searing, sometimes distorted guitar – boldly straddles the worlds of progressive jazz and experimental rock. Part Charles Mingus and part Frank Zappa with a dash of John Zorn’s Masada, the MMQ is that rare group reveling in the deep swing of tradition while simultaneously pushing the envelope forward on several fronts. There’s a hint of mischief, and a strong sense of melody at the music’s rock-solid foundation.
“There’s some strong virtuosity displayed, but primarily in the sensibilities of the players to the strength of the rhythm and course of the flow. They can diverge on separate paths to explore, but come back for a bumpy, bouncy hook at a moment’s notice. This is jazz at its thick, heavy best.” – Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide
The San Francisco Chronicle called mmq “one of the Bay Area’s most riotously swinging young jazz groups,” and later noted that “among the most provocative of ensembles is a quintet known for its discipline, range and willingness to defy time signatures and test harmonies.” The group was voted San Francisco’s Best Jazz Band in SF Weekly’s annual readers’ poll.
The mmq has played such venues as the Warfield Theatre, The Great American Music Hall, Smalls Jazz Club, The 55 Bar, as well as headlined the prestigious San Francisco Jazz Festival, and continues wow audiences regularly.
“The Mitch Marcus Quintet plays 21st century jazz: adventurous music that swings with all the muscularity and verve of pioneers like Mingus, Monk, and Rollins, but pays tribute to that glorious past by daring to advance the sweet science of collective improvisation into the future.” — Steve Silberman, contributing editor – Wired Magazine.
“Mitch Marcus is one of those freak genius types. A virtuosic saxophonist and dynamic composer, he has a wide-open ear, a deep respect for jazz tradition, and a fearless creative spirit.” — East Bay Express, Sam Prestianni
Here’s a few tracks and videos to check out:
These 2 tracks are from our record Countdown 2 Meltdown with Mitch Marcus on tenor sax, Sylvain Carton on alto sax, Mike Abraham on guitar, George Ban-Weiss on bass, and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Written by MM, recorded by Stephen Barncard and Adrian Wong, and mixed by Stephen Barncard
Countdown 2 Meltdown
This next piece is from our album The Special
with Mitch Marcus on tenor sax, Sylvain Carton on alto sax, Mike Abraham on guitar, George Ban-Weiss on bass, and Ches Smith on drums. Written by MM, recorded by Stephen Barncard and Adrian Wong, and mixed by Stephen Barncard
This track is from our album Entropious, with Mitch Marcus on tenor sax, Sylvain Carton on alto sax, Chad Wagner on piano, Lorenzeo Farrel on bass, and Ches Smith on drums. Written by Sylvain Carton, recorded and mixed by Scott Theakston.
This is a video shot by Stephen and Leslie Barncard from a show at Amnesia in San Francisco. The tune is Coffee and Cones (from the Countdown 2 Meltdown album)
Here’s a short video compilation shot by Bill Swerbo, “baytaper” from a concert we did at Chez Hanny.