Sunday, November 04, 2007

Denmanic Polyrhythms

Denman Maroney Quintet @ An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
Saturday, November 3, 2007

Denman Maroney: hyperpiano
Dave Ballou: trumpet
Reuben Radding: bass
Ned Rothenberg: reeds
Michael Sarin: drums

Denman Maroney's music mines a beautiful rhythmic angularity as layers of polyrhythms test the musicianship and concentration of his quintet for a sound that is both tight and deliriously off kilter. The individual parts are kept simple, yet animated, with Maroney's left hand lending a stride piano pattern of a 2-against-1 pattern that occasionally anchors the texture. Maroney's right hand was often literally "single handedly" executing cross-rhythmic patterns or lending some well-placed, spare voicings (I was particularly fond of the way he used major seconds). The individual players of the quartet animated their own independent parts so that the overall sound was far more than cyclical rhythmic patterns unfolding as temporal manifestations of whole-numbers. The extreme levels of concentration never overwhelmed the musicality of the performance as they managed to cling to a tenuously obscured pulse.

The first set consisted of shorter works - many of which Maroney has recorded with Mark Dresser - that were a pleasure to finally hear live. Pieces like "Double You" and "MC" are already in frequent rotation at HurdAudio and it was a pleasant surprise to watch how those textures are put together in performance. The second set featured a world premiere performance of Udentity - a substantial long-form composition that dives deep into Maroney's polyrhythmic sensibilities. Maroney's use of empty CD "jewel boxes" inside the piano was particularly interesting as he dragged them lengthwise along the strings at alternating intervals to create an acoustic version of a Shepard Tone. Udentity was occasionally unpolished in this performance, but intensely captivating throughout.

No comments: