Welcome To The New York Jazz Workshop Official Blog!

Greetings friends and welcome!

With so much music, creativity and fun bursting from within our studio walls here at the New York Jazz Workshop in the heart of midtown Manhattan, the music capital of the world, we thought it only fair that we share it with others via the world-wide web and so this is our all new official blog! Here at newyorkjazzworkshop.wordpress.com we plan to share with you some of the exciting things that go on in our classes and workshops along with our ever-increasing insatiable appetite for all things Jazz! We also hope to bring you the very best in what New York City can offer everyone, from the curious Jazz novice to the die-hard well seasoned Jazz expert and all round fanatic! Please join us as we embark upon our improvised modern musical odyssey and don’t be shy now, make sure to make yourself known and say hello! Share, Like, Comment, Read, Watch and above all listen!! We hope you enjoy the adventure!


What a great experience it is to play at Smalls, a jazz club and cultural landmark dedicated to nurturing and showcasing new as well as established jazz talent. Here’s a video about Smalls history.

‘Never Give Up, Never Surrender!’

Marc Mommaas Interview Part One:

These are the emphatic words that left an indelible ringing in my ears after an insightful and inspiring conversation with tenor saxophonist and New York Jazz Workshop co-founder Marc Mommaas. Mommaas who moved from his native Netherlands to become a full time New York City resident in 1997 has since established himself as a venerable jazz musician here in the city and beyond on the international world stage.

Having grown up in Amsterdam and coming from a family with notable artistic values and achievements; his mother was a pianist and opera singer and his father a very well-known painter & artist, you would be forgiven to think that the life of the artist was indeed written in the stars for Mommaas however it was not always this clear. In his youth Mommas says, ‘I chose swimming as a way of rebelling’ with characteristic self-assuredness. I know what you’re thinking; swimming may not seem like a typical act we associate with rebellion but this was not a typical or conventional upbringing. ‘I worked really really hard at swimming but I could still never compete with the top athlete’s who could achieve more than I could and with less effort’.  At the age of 16 Mommaas suffered injuries to his shoulders which confirmed his hunch that perhaps swimming and a sporting life in general was not to be his path and so he came to the saxophone.

‘When I started to play the saxophone I found it much easier. It came very naturally to me and it became a passion.’ If a lesson is to be learned here it is that perhaps life does not need to be as difficult as we sometimes make it for ourselves. Perhaps we are closer to our purpose or calling when we are joyful and things are flowing freely. Perhaps happiness is our inner-guidance system nudging us in the right direction, telling us that we are on the right track and we must simply listen. Whatever that voice is; Mommaas certainly listened and today speaks with great passion about the important role that being a musician plays in his life. ‘It is crucial in terms of staying in tune with your environment, to life and connecting with life.’ One does get the sense when speaking with Mommaas that he is well contected with that spirit whatever it may be and he has authority to speak of such things. He is a man of passion, a man of intellect and above all a man of insight.


We’re playing this Monk rhythm-change-based tune in the bebop workshop (which is a little weird because Monk did not like bebop and he favored tenorists who would not place standard bebop language over his changes, as Coltrane and Rouse managed fruitfully). So I have been listening to different versions of the tune and seeing what I could find out about it, when I came across this analysis by a graduate student at Eastman of a Tom Harrell solo.

The analysis classifies each phrase or passage in the solo as either in or out. “In” and “out” each are then subdivided into phrases or passages that either (1) expressly outlines a harmony, whether that harmony is in or out,  or (2) implies ambiguous harmonies, commonly accomplished with the altered scale and often with linear passages and phrases. This produces four categories: harmonic-in, harmonic-out, V-in, V-out. The letter V stands for the type of phrase or passage described as the second type—that is harmonically ambiguous. The letter V is  represents the V chord, where this melodic type typically finds expression on V.

The reason I like the analysis is because it offers a simple and logical way to give a solo harmonic variety. And the color coded pdf solo for viewing and downloading is excellent, and of course you hear Harrell’s solo.

Modern Jazz

Hi everybody! Time to share some music. We had a great class last night with my Modern Jazz Workshop and we have been working on some new tunes so I want to post some thoughts and videos.

The first tune we are working on is Question and Answer by Pat Metheny. It’s a great 3/4 tune with a very nice melody line on the A sections and some very challenging changes on the B section with an interesting 4 over 3 line. Please check this awesome video of Metheny’s Quartet at Jazz Baltica featuring Michael Brecker performing the tune (also Antonio Sanchez and Christian McBride).
Killing solos by everybody!

Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ahqOCZhdQM
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHXwY59nePc

The second tune is Goodbye Pork Pie Hat written by Charles Mingus and dedicated to the great sax player Lester Young. It’s a slow ballad with a very bluesy melody and very interesting changes. It’s a classic of the jazz repertoire and has been recorded many different times, check out these great versions!



What are your favorites?

During the holiday break, Andrea (our teacher) asked us to learn three blues and three rhythm changes tunes. So to you readers out there, what blues and rhythm changes tunes would you think every jazz musician should know?

Post your answers.
And happy holidays to all.

More Daahoud

Here is a link to Clifford Brown’s trumpet solo taken from the Clifford Brown Complete EmArcy recordings. Emily Remler’s guitar improvisation on Daahoud (from the CD “East Meets Wes”)  is available on iTunes and worth the 99 cents, and you can find a transcription of her solo here. Listening to Brown’s, Stafford’s (see recent post) and Remler’s solos back to back opened my ears to the song’s possibilities. Now, only if could do the same.

If you don’t remember when the subway was 50 cents, you probably don’t know Emily Remler (she was married to the more well-known jazz pianist Monty Alexander), who was in her jazz prime in the 1980’s and died much too young in 1990.