240

Mark Dresser/Denman Maroney: Time Changes

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Since emerging in the mid-'80s alongside artists like woodwind multi-instrumentalist/composer Anthony Braxton, drummer Gerry Hemingway, and trombonist Ray Anderson, bassist Mark Dresser has combined a frightening command of his instrument that includes all manner of extended techniques with a remarkably musical approach that often makes greater sense of the more outré artists with whom he's often been associated. With a deep tone and at times intensely physical approach, he's also proven himself capable of playing in contexts as wide-ranging as the lyrical openness of soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom's quartets, the more in-the-centre space of Joe Lovano's trio, and the structured new music leanings of Left Coast contrabassist Steuart Liebig.

Arguably his most longstanding and enduring relationship has been with self-titled "hyperpianist Denman Maroney—hyperpiano referring to the variety of prepared piano techniques that Maroney uses to expand the textural potential of his instrument. Since meeting in '89, they've recorded eight albums—some under Dresser's name, others under Maroney's—and their latest, Time Changes, is a collaborative effort credited to both. Between Maroney's prepared piano and Dresser's extended techniques, the two are capable of extracting a wider range of sonics than one might imagine, this time augmented by Michael Sarin—a drummer on the Downtown New York scene since the early '90s and a flexible player who deserves greater attention—as well as, on four tracks, mezzo soprano Alexandra Montano.

The title refers to the trio's flexible yet constructed compositions, most notably Dresser's "Aperitivo, which, according to Dresser, is based on a blues form but is rendered almost unrecognizable through his and Maroney's harmonic alterations, not to mention a constantly fluctuating tempo that keeps the listener on his or her toes throughout. Montano's wordless vocals also take the piece away from the obviousness of its roots. Similarly, Maroney's "M.C. takes a relatively straightforward set of changes and twists it through a series of complex tempo variations that give the whole piece a staggered effect.

Utilizing an innovative custom-built pickup system in the fingerboard of his bass, Dresser expands the aural breadth of his instrument on "Ekoneni, which begins with abstract motions from all parties, but ultimately resolves into a more straightforward rhythm, although Maroney's use of some form of sliding appliance on the piano strings keeps things from ever being too direct.

It is, in fact, Maroney and Dresser's expansion of their respective instruments' sonic possibilities that takes the programme of Dresser and Maroney originals, all based on complex and precisely structured forms—with the exception of two free improvisations—and opens them up to greater breath and breadth. If one can forget about the clearly detailed arrangements and just absorb the music without consideration, the set takes on a surprisingly effortless and alluring complexion.

When Dresser recently played a series of duets in Ottawa, Canada with fellow bassist John Geggie, his ability to combine improvisational élan with finely detailed composition was in clear evidence. Time Changes is further demonstration of his and Maroney's ability to construct contexts that demand strict adherence to form and a more exploratory aesthetic.

Visit Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney on the web.


Track Listing: Aperitivo; Pulse Field; Heap; M.C.; One Plate; Double You; Harkemony; Lateral Mass; Kilter; Between 17th and Bliss; Ekoneni

Personnel: Mark Dresser (bass); Denman Maroney (hyperpiano); Michael Sarin (drums, percussion); Alexandra Montano (voice)

Title: Time Changes | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Cryptogramophone


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "The Source" CD/LP/Track Review The Source
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "My Iris" CD/LP/Track Review My Iris
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Beloved" CD/LP/Track Review Beloved
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Don't Blink" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Blink
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "The Eastcote Studios Session" CD/LP/Track Review The Eastcote Studios Session
by John Eyles
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.