Reviews that mention Denman Maroney

April 23, 2014

Hans Tammen/Denman Maroney

Arson
OutNow Records ONOR13

Dom Minasi & Hans Tammen

Alluvium

Strawtogoldpictures No #

Q: When is a guitar not a guitar? A: When it’s endangered.

No one would imagine that the guitar, probably the most popular instrument in today’s world, is any way endangered. But German-born, New York-based Hans Tammen uses that term to describe his instrument, which involves a standard guitar that also functions as controller for live sound processing. These duo CDs outline his interaction with Dom Minasi, who plays what could probably be called a non-imperiled six-string; or Denman Maroney, whose so-called hyperpiano playing involves using different implements to strike the prepared strings to produce unexpected timbres,. MORE

September 9, 2013

Mark Dresser Quintet

Nourishments
Clean Feed CF 279 CD

By Ken Waxman

Double bass master and educator Mark Dresser is known for his ability to stunningly interpret the most advanced notated and improvised music – often in a solo context. However on this, his first quintet date in decades, he shows he can compose and play sounds that are affecting and swinging without neglecting his matchless technique.

While the line-up of trombone, alto saxophone, piano, bass and drums may read like that of a standard bop combo, each of the sidemen is so accomplished instrumentally that the results are out-of-the-ordinary. The most obvious departure from the norm is that Denman Maroney plays so-called hyperpiano throughout, allowing him to expose in-and-outside the frame multiphonics along with expected patterns. Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who co-wrote “Not Withstanding” with Dresser, is in the Mauger band with the bassist, and his knowledge of Carnatic music helps negotiate the shimmering changes of Dresser’s “Rasaman” honoring a sitar-playing colleague. Trombonist Michael Dessen is established in mainstream and avant contexts; while Tom Rainey and Michael Sarin, who split drum duties, are both sympathetic, un-showy accompanists. MORE

May 28, 2013

Maroney/Ilgenfritz/Niescier/Drury

Mind Games
OutNow Recordings ONR 011

Meloni/Dunmall/Dessanay/Sanders

Pictures of a Quartet

SLAM 539

With the saxophone plus rhythm section such a common configuration in Jazz, improvisers must resort to new stratagems to bring some originality to the proceedings. These quartets do so, but in widely different manners. The combo on Pictures of a Quartet for instance, works on melding variants of atonal improvisations with compositional impulses that relate to the background of Italian pianist Sebastiano Meloni. Mind Games on the other hand transforms the quartet symbiosis by building many of the tracks around the unexpected timbres generated by Denman Maroney’s prepared piano and Andrew Drury unusual percussion set. MORE

June 10, 2012

Denman Maroney

Double Zero
Porter Records PRCD-4063

Kris Davis

Aeriol Piano

Clean Feed CF 233 CD

Agustí Fernández

El laberint dfe la memòria

Mbari Musica MBARI 04

Simon Nabatov

Spinning Songs of Herbie Nichols

Leo Records CD LR 632

Something In The Air: Solo Piano Strategies

By Ken Waxman

Solo playing has always been the make-or-break yardstick for pianists of any genre. That’s solo playing not playing solo, an important distinction which differentiates between exhibiting showy breaks and having an overall musical plan for the mini-orchestra this is at his or her fingertips. The solo challenge is more pronounced for improvisers since even if they’re interpreting compositions, originality is the paramount concern. These challenges don’t prevent pianists from trying their hands at solo sessions. But it’s instructive to note that the memorable ones, such as the piano dates here by an American, a Canadian, a Catalan and a Russian, use different strategies to attain matchless quality. MORE

July 8, 2010

Miguel Frasconi/Denman Maroney

Gleam
Porter Records PRCD 4047

By Ken Waxman

Creative improvising has been produced on instruments ranging from the church organ and bassoon to comb-and-tissue paper and suitcase drums, so why not glass objects? Composer/performer Miguel Frasconi proves it can be done on this notable CD.

Frasconi’s decades of experience using a collection of found and specially tuned glass objects that are bowed, struck and stroked creates polyphonic textures that reference bells, marimbas and even brass and reed timbres. Upping the ante, his performing partner here is Denman Maroney, who transforms a grand piano into a hyperpiano by removing the internal damper and plate to bow, slide, stop and strum the exposed strings with objects such as copper bars, bowls, rubber blocks and CD jewel cases. The resulting textures engage both the strings and their extensions allowing him to play in several tempos and harmonies. It’s as if he’s sounding several stringed instruments simultaneouslyMORE

December 17, 2009

Hans Tammen Third Eye Orchestra

Live At Roulette
Innova 225

Expanding his electro-acoustic expertise to a creation for large ensemble, on this CD German-born, New York-based endangered guitarist Han Tammen presents two mesmerizing suites from his 13-piece Third Eye Orchestra.

Apparently unfazed by the superstition about 13, Tammen doesn’t perform, but instead conducts and arranges in real time. Likewise ignoring the superstitious angle, some of Manhattan’s most accomplished and innovative musicians – and one ringer – handle with aplomb Tammen’s creation which calls for equal facility with improvisation and notated music, acoustic instrumental techniques and familiarity with electronic excursions. Although billed as two, six-part versions of the same piece – “Antecedent” and “Consequence” – it’s a tribute to all concerned that neither version mirrors the other. While the separately titled tracks exhibit certain homogeneity, soloists never eschew individuality even while blending with the others in section work or contrasting passages. MORE

August 21, 2006

FRED FRITH/CARLA KIHLSTEDT/STEVIE WISHART

The Compass, Log And Lead
Intakt CD 103

LEROY JENKINS’ DRIFTWOOD
The Art of Improvisation
Mutable Music 17523-2

By Ken Waxman

Welcoming a variety of non-traditional influences, both these string-oriented CDs confirm that 21st Century improvisation has become catholic enough to accommodate more than stereotypical roots influences.

While fiddler Leroy Jenkins is a long-time members of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), jazz’s paramount musical collective; veteran Rich O’Donnell is from the legit side of the fence, having spent 43 years as principal percussionist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, been head of Washington University’s percussion department and director of its Electronic Music Studios. Chinese-born Min Xiao-Fen frequently brings the classical textures of the pipa, or four-stringed Chinese lute to jazz and New music; while prepared piano player Denman Maroney adapts his percussive techniques and intervallic playing to jazz/improv with bassist Mark Dresser and elsewhere to notated music. MORE

July 27, 2006

Leroy Jenkins’ Driftwood

The Art of Improvisation
Mutable Music 17523-2

Properly labeling his modus operandi here, Leroy Jenkins, jazz’s pre-eminent violinist, who has indulged in notated music, leads a quartet exploring the intricacies of improvisation and more.

While fiddler Jenkins is a long-time Free Jazzer, Rich O’Donnell hails from the legit world with 43 years as percussionist with the St. Louis Symphony. Min Xiao-Fen adapts the textures of the pipa, or Chinese lute; and Denman Maroney uses intervallic playing to make his prepared piano as much a percussive as a chordal instrument. MORE

October 31, 2005

MARK DRESSER/DENMAN MARONEY

Time Changes
Cryptogramophone CG 124

Digression on a theme, TIME CHANGES finds bassist Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney amending the voicing they’ve developed over the years to encompass other sounds.

Utilizing the unique textures available from Dresser’s mastery of extended techniques and the timbres from Maroney’s hyperpiano – a regular piano’s strings and soundboard “prepared” with all sorts of gizmos – they make space for understated percussionist Michael Sarin and mezzo soprano Alexandra Montano. Involved with performing contemporary works by Philip Glass and Meredith Monk among others, the New York-based mezzo, functions here as another instrumentalist. Experienced in musicals and operas, she adopts her tessitura to the demands of wordless vocalizing. MORE

April 12, 2004

DENMAN MARONEY

Fluxations
New World # 80607

SOPHIE AGNEL/OLIVIER BENOIT
Rip-stop
IN SITU IS 237

Orchestral and monochordal at different times, the piano is the cornerstone of Western music because of its versatility. But this versatility sometimes limits its adaptability to more experimental music.

Over the second half of the 20th century composers and pianists decided that one way to overcome the keyboard’s innate conventionality was to prepare the strings with different objects. These two CDs -- one American and one French -- show how these preparations can be used in the context of improvised music. Each is vastly different. American Denman Maroney’s quintet is strongly allied to jazz, whereas the Parisian duo of pianist Sophie Agnel and guitarist Olivier Benoit leans towards free music and electronics. MORE

February 1, 2002

MARK DRESSER

Aquifer
Cryptogramophone CG 111

Realistic appraisals of the improv sector’s fragile economy mean that even the most accomplished musicians are freelancers, with the idea of having a long-running aggregation like the Modern Jazz Quartet now regarded as pure fantasy.

That’s often unfortunate. For when you compare the empathy, professionalism and exceptional creativity that results from being able to work in even a semi-permanent ensemble like the one featured on this CD, you see what’s lost when players are forced into pick-up or one/off groups. MORE

October 31, 2000

DENMAN MARONEY/HANS TAMMEN

Billabong
Potlatch P100

What is that noise?" is the usual question asked by those hostile to experimental sound when confronted with a fine session like this. The follow up is often a demand to explain how this seemingly random collection of scrapes, scratches and reverberations could even be thought of as music.

The answer, as Louis Armstrong was once reported to reply when asked for a definition of jazz, is: "If you don't know what it is, don't mess with it."

Simplistic perhaps, but applying one set of standards to a different style of expression is as fallacious as condemning a dog for not having cow horns. Both creatures are domesticated, have a tail, walk on four legs, don't talk and are reasonably loyal and friendly. But no one expects Rover to resemble Elsie, so why should pure improv approximate conventional popular sounds?

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