Denman Maroney


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Composer and pianist Denman Maroney (1949) has developed a technique that involves "increasing" the sound of the piano (or, better, "hyperpiano") by touching its chords with objects (one hand plays the keyboard and the other one handles the objects).

His first major experience was in the Tambastics (january 1992 - Music & Arts, 1992), with flutist Robert Dick, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway. But he revealed his vision on Hyperpiano (Mon$ey Music, 1998), three solo piano sonatas: Flux Time, Artemisia and On the Contrary.

Fire Song (may 1999 - Erstwhile, 1999) with Earl Howard (saxophone and synthesizer), contains: Maroney's Pulse Field , a duet for hyperpiano and alto saxophone, Maroney's solo hyperpiano piece UnCaged Bacchanal, Howard's Fire Song, a duet for hyperpiano and synthesizer, and Howard's solo alto saxophone piece Orchid.

A series of collaborations further refined his concept: Billabong (july 1999 - Potlatch, 2000), duets between Maroney (on hyperpiano) and German guitarist Hans Tammen; Billabong (Potlatch P100) were duets Marinade (Tzadik, 2000) with Mark Dresser, violinist Mary Rowell, flutist Matthias Ziegler; Duologues (november 2000 - Victo, 2001) with Dresser; Aquifer (march 2001 - Cryptogrammophone, 2001) with Dresser and Ziegler; Tools of the Trade (june 2001 - CIMP, 2002) with reed player Ned Rothenberg; etc.

Fluxations (april 2001 - New World, 2003), recorded in 2001, is a six-part chamber work performed by Dave Ballou (trumpet), Kevin Norton (drums), Ned Rothenberg (bass clarinet), Kevin Norton (vibraphone), Mark Dresser (double bass), Denman Maroney (piano), Ned Rothenberg (alto saxophone) and Maroney on hyperpiano. The key compositional ingredient is the concept of "pulse field", inherited from the likes of Charles Ives and Conlon Nancarrow: a pulse field is a polyrhythmic sequence denoted as a rhythmic relationship between instruments (e.g., 3:4:5). This might be the most ambitious implementation of the concept since it first emerged in the 20th century. Besides the obvious rhythmic effect (the instruments both participate in the overall counterpoint and play by themselves, at their own pace), one can perceive a restrained, self-aware demeanor due to the improvisational skills demanded of the performers, who must exhibit the flawlessness of a mathematicians proving a theorem. Part 2 is where the mechanism is set in motion in earnest: after the quintet elaborates over a gentle "theme", the hyperpiano injects some life into it and turns it into art, and, by the end of the section, one comes to perceive the loose fanfare of clarinet and trumpet as soulful. The hyperpiano opens Part 3 in an ecstatic/geometric fashion reminiscent of Bach's Art of the Fugue but the ensemble soon decomposes the system into a series of decoupled melancholy gestures. The hyperpiano keeps trying to bring living tone-rich patterns into the lifeless movements of the ensemble, but the ensemble's disconnected clockwork rejects any superposition of order. The dialogue between robotic and sentimental elements gets more intense (and loud) in Part 4. All the voices of the ensemble are suddenly invigorated and outspoken. In Part 5 this frenzy briefly evokes Steve Reich-ian repetition, although at every point in time an instrument is breaking the uniform pattern with longer and melodic phrases.
All in all, the six-part piece stands as a monument of new composition/improvisation fusion.

Denman Maroney's quartet (Ned Rothenberg on reeds, Reuben Radding on bass, Michael Sarin on drums) recorded Gaga (july 2006), originally premiered in october 2004. Udentity (2007) added Dave Ballou on trumpet to that line-up.

Double Zero (Porter, 2011) is a nine-movement suite for solo hyperpiano recorded live in march 2008.

All Strung Out (Kadima, 2012) documents a collaboration between Denman Maroney and contrabassist Dominic Lash.

Mind Games (august 2010) features the quartet of Angelika Niescier (alto sax), Denman Maroney (hyperpiano), James Ilgenfritz (double bass) and Andrew Drury (drums, objects). Maroney's 18-minutes Warum Bist Du Gekommen?.

Maroney's Gleam (august 2008) contains the 25-minute Glass for hyperpiano and glass objects.

Mark Dresser's Nourishments (Clean Feed, 2013), premiered in november 2011, was a collaboration with Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax), Michael Dessen (trombone), Denman Maroney (hyperpiano) and drummers Tom Rainey and Michael Sarin.

Arson (OutNow, 2013) was a collaboration between Maroney on hyperpiano and Hans Tammen on "endangered" guitar & sound processing.

Michael Lytle (clarinets), Stephen Flinn (percussion) and Denman Maroney (piano)formed the Flinn Lytle Maroney Trio that debuted with Itinerant (may 2017).

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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