Lily Maase

Ex-Albuquerque Composer Brings Her New Quintet To Outpost’s Creative Soundscape Festival

Mel Minter
4 min read
Lily Maase
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Guitarist, composer and Albuquerque native Lily Maase has been living in Brooklyn, N.Y., for about 10 months now, yet she’s accomplished what sounds like 10 years’ worth of work already.

She has produced a CD of engaging and critically acclaimed new music,
aftermath; premiered a major composition, Hall of Mirrors, at Brooklyn’s CAVEgallery; formed a brand-new quintet, theSuiteUnraveling, which she’s bringing to Albuquerque; been performing regularly with the New York SoundPainting Orchestra; collected a gaggle of guitar students; and been happily assaulted by an unprecedented creative surge that keeps her composing nonstop.

“I can’t say that it’s not very challenging on a day-to-day basis, just figuring out how to exist in this crazy city,” she says via phone between students. “But the creative chaos and the personal chaos have just been amazing, and the things that it’s done for my music … it’s been an incredibly liberating experience.”

A graduate of the University of Texas’ jazz studies program, Maase had been making a name for herself on the Dallas music scene. Then, a trip to the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, run by trumpeter Dave Douglas, a friend and mentor, changed everything last year.

“I lived in the woods in the Canadian Rockies for three weeks with Dave and a large number of professional New York musicians and 65 students who are just some of the most amazing musicians I’ve ever met,” she says. Many of these folks, Maase discovered, shared her musical language, something that had been missing in Dallas.

“All of a sudden, music went from being this incredible struggle to being incredibly easy,” she says.

Two months after the workshop ended, she moved to New York, home to many of her colinguists, where she’s busy reinventing music.

Noting that the average trained musician today is familiar with everything from Bach to the thorniest contemporary composers, as well as the language of jazz, rock and electronic music, she says, “If creative improvised music is going to survive in this era when you can download pop music on your cell phone, there needs to be a new fusion. We need to take all of this music and make it new, but also something that is meaningful to young people today.

“My own compositions incorporate the idea of contemporary classical composition, of jazz improvisation, of rock styles, of the sort of the wildness of free jazz, and it takes all of these and makes them sort of palettes that you can dip into to paint a new canvas.”

Add modern technology, experimental compositional approaches, killer technique and a fearless sense of fun, and you’ve got some seriously remarkable new music.


The Lily Maase Quintet—with Peter Van Huffel (alto sax), Evan Smith (tenor sax), Matt Wigton (bass) and Fred Kennedy (drums)—will be painting new sounds at several events this week. Check for additional information.

Thursday, May 18

Performance and workshop at the Albuquerque Museum, 8 p.m. Call 228-5902 for ticket information.

Friday, May 19

Master class
at Steve Maase Guitar Studio, 11 a.m. Call 228-5902 for ticket information.

Performance (on a split bill with pianist Matthew Shipp) at the Outpost (268-0044;, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 20

Performance and workshop at Grandma’s Music and Sound (292-0341), 3 p.m.
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