MMQ + 13

MMQ + 13 (The Mitch Marcus Quintet + 13)

The mmq + 13 came to fruition after Mitch and his long-time collaborator, Sylvain Carton were awarded the prestigious “subito” grant by the American Composers forum.  The idea of starting an 18 piece big-band with non-traditional orchestration was very much inspired by IU professor David Baker.  The MMQ + 13 has 5 saxophones, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, vibraphone/percussion, drums, guitar, and 2 upright bass players.   Mitch  and Sylvain, through years of experience writing for each other in various ensembles, have a chemistry and cohesion rarely seen in the music business in this day and age.  The MMQ + 13 puts all this on display in dramatic fashion.  The band swings hard, and is constantly layering melodies upon rhythms upon melodies upon rhythms.  The compositions are bursting with energy and creativity.  One might go from a part labeled “as fast as possible” to stop on a dime and move into a brass choral, into counterpoint which moves on top of a foundation of heavy rhythmic rock, landing and releasing finally into a trumpet solo which further pushes the song to its recap of melody.  This give and take makes for a huge sound experience for both audience and player.

“The mmq + 13 is a large ensemble that not only burns, but also pulses with originality and creates invigorating challenges for both musician and listener.  Intriguing compositions, brimming with multi-rhythmic eruptions and unexpected harmonie, drive the engine, but this is not some soulless intellectual exercise.  The ensemble, bolstered by the participation of some of the most accomplished players, provides power to spare.  This is a big band that’s looking to cove new ground, with players who aren’t afraid of terra incognita.”           (Jerry Karp, SF Weekly)

Here are a few highlights from a show we played at Yoshi’s in Oakland:                             These recordings were captured by Stephen Barncard and Adrian Wong.

Coffee and Cones

featuring Mitch on tenor sax, Ches Smith on drums, Erik Jekabson and Darren Johnston on trumpets and the whole ensemble in some difficult passages played with precision and gusto!


Paisano – intro- (Studio)

Paisano – outro- (Yoshi’s)

2 sections from an mmq staple; an epic arrangement of Paisano.  The first excerpt “intro” is from a session the mmq + 13 recorded at Expression Center for New Media with Scott Theakston at the controls.  The second “outro” section is from the aforementioned Yoshis show, special thanks to Stephen Barncard and Adrian Wong.  Also check out the mmq’s “stripped down” version from The Special.


Talk about the 50

Talk about the 50 is one of the more “straight ahead” tunes in the book, at least until the middle section breakdown horn vamp craziness.  The “50” is written by Sylvain Carton and features Sylvain on alto sax, Erik Jekabson on trumpet, Adam Theis on trombone, and Ches Smith on drums.  The recording is from a demo we made a Expression Center for New Media and was recorded and mixed by Scott Theakston.


Obata – excerpt – Deyoung

Obata is a multi-movement piece that was commissioned by the DeYoung museum based on a painting by the artist Chiura Obata.  The excerpt below is from the premier performance at the DeYoung this piece.



Pork Chops

“Pork Chops” is from the mmq + 13’s debut concert, an epic evening at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco.  This features Mitch on tenor saxophone, Sylvain Carton on alto saxophone, and admiral Ted Brinkley semi-retired aka Graham Connah on piano


Big Castle 3 – excerpt – Victoria Theatre

Big Castle #3 is the third and final movement of a large work written for the mmq + 13.  This excerpt is again from the group’s debut concert at the Victoria Theatre