Denman Maroney: Solo @70

Karl Ackermann By

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Denman Maroney, best-known for his use of the dual-keyboard hyper piano, celebrates his seventieth birthday with a massive collection of solo pieces played on the traditional piano. However, there is little traditional about Solo@70. Maroney's sizable catalog of over forty releases includes several solo projects; the previous such album, Domicil Solo (Live) (Self Produced, 2017) consisting of one, forty-four-minute improvised piece. On Solo@70 he flips the solo format with thirty-eight pieces across a three-disc digital set. Included are compositions that span fifty years, half originally recorded in group settings, and the remainder previously unrecorded.

Maroney's inspirations include a broad array of composers including John Cage, Ornette Coleman, Henry Cowell, Duke Ellington, Charles Ives, Scott Joplin, and Thelonious Monk. He has recorded with Ned Rothenberg, Mat Maneri, Dominic Lash, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Tom Rainey and on multiple occasions, Mark Dresser. In his solo efforts, he can coax an orchestra's worth of sound from his instrument. Maroney applies temporal harmony to his approach and explains that the music on Solo@70 is improvised in polyperiodic method. Taken together, it is a tactic that has been referred to in other quarters as "disorderly order."

Of the thirty-eight compositions, nineteen have appeared on his earlier group recordings. The remainder are previously unrecorded. Maroney borrows heavily from Gaga (NuScope, 2008) his quartet outing with Rothenberg. Seven of that album's eight cuts are reimagined here. Describing the majority of these is problematic; many lack melody and their unusual construction is difficult to envision. Still, there are markers and references throughout and some of the pieces have underlying warmth and spirited melodies interwoven with inelastic, cacophonous tension. "A Thought Revolved" demonstrates Maroney's affinity for the more avant-garde works of György Ligeti. Similarly, "Every Day" leans deeply on the classics. Solo@70 has much to unpack with ragtime passages in "Air Condition," and the mechanical atonality of "Blip." The oddly timed "Fowler's Better Blues," the nostalgia of "I'm Yours" and the pensive air of "Long Odds" are just a few examples of the diverse interests that provide the foundation for these tentative treatments.

In terms of experimental music, Maroney's is accessible, but an investment in listening. Solo@70 is most challenging in that the artist employs a great deal of repetition within many of these with no turning points. Nevertheless, this is an ambitious and uniquely creative project that will appeal to many open-minded listeners.

Track Listing: A Thought Revolved; Arrhythmia; Air Condition; Blip; Blind Love; Curl; Detach & Retain; Double You; Epistropholes; Every Day; Fowler's Better Blues; Frogs; Iteratio; I'm Yours; Jug; Lattice; Kilter; MC; Long Odds; Nero; One Off, Or Two; New One Two; Off Centerpiece; Peer to Peer; Primal Sympathy; Pulse Field; Sank Sea Set; Pulsations; Sea Set Wheat; Selonica; Set Sea Sank; Social Security; Sombriety; The One; Time's Out; Unknown Knowns; Vortex; Whamapo.

Personnel: Denman Maroney: piano.

Title: Solo @70 | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

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