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Associés depuis une vingtaine d’années, Mark Dresser (b) et Denman Maroney (« hyperpiano ») ont inventé une manière de combiner avec fraîcheur, sophistication et une constante inspiration une sorte de lyrisme épanoui et des impros hérissées dans un savant enchevêtrement de techniques instrumentales conventionnelles et « étendues » très colorées. “Live in concert“ (enregistré à New York et Chicago) est un parfait échantillon de leur art singulier.

Robert Louis Impro Jazz


June 14, 2009 in Italian Removed

This is the third duo album by bassist Mark Dresser and pianist Denman Maroney, after "Duologues" and "Time Changes". In contrast to some of the other material by the two players, this one is fully improvised in three long pieces. The first 30 minute track was recorded live at Vision Festival on June 10, 2008, the two other pieces date from a performance in Chicago in 2001. It's hard to call this jazz, since none of the two plays anything which ressembles anything which could fit in a category. It is music that evolves, following its own logic of feeling, interaction and sonic pallette: highly unpredictable yet very focused. Maroney's "hyperpiano" becomes a different instrument in his hands, with all kind of materials muting the strings, vibrating along, or any other kind of bizarre sound that can be extracted from your standard piano. The new sounds that are created push Dresser along on the same route, re-inventing the bass as well. This does not mean that this music is experimental per se. Art is at the center of what they do, using their skills to generate feelings and intellectual play, with at times even beautiful passages, and through all the sonic novelty, jazz, blues and classical music emerge, like wisps of memory, in a great synthesis of sound. It is better than the two previous albums, soberer and richer at the same time, and strangely enough more focused despite the difference in recording dates. Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney’s Live in Concert is taken from gigs at two different venues. The first track, performed at Vision Festival XIII in 2008, is a 31-minute piece which further demonstrates why these artists are leaders in the field on their respective instruments when it comes to extended techniques and the creation of new inventive, nearly unearthly sounds. The second half of the CD consists of two pieces recorded in concert at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs in 2001 and shows not only the long partnership and affinity these two have for each other but also their different approaches. On “Ediface”, a 23-minute piece that closes the disc, Maroney concentrates more on the keyboard than the innards of the piano while Dresser engages in some very hard plucking. We are confronted with the constructing and deconstructing of sound and the literal transfiguration of this sound into forces beyond feeling and thought.
Bassist Mark Dresser is a veteran of Anthony Braxton's quartet and Denman Maroney is the creator of the term "hyperpiano," used to distinguish his approach from that of other pianists using prepared techniques for piano. Those two factors alone say enough about where their music is coming from, which by default arguably places great emphasis on where they take it.
The program they conjure from out of the ether here covers a number of bases without losing either focus or clarity. From the start it's clear that their happily shared vocabulary is an extensive one, and by the time the ninth minute of the lengthy "Starmelodics" roles around the dialog is both intimate and expansive. Maroney's supplements of the piano's traditional sound range encompass not only plenty of work under the lid but also its use as a percussion instrument. Neither of these factors is anything new as such but that doesn't alter the fact that the resulting music is unusual in the degree of its expansiveness. Dresser and Maroney's dialog is emphatically of an order that could be taken up at a moment's notice, and for all of the music's sometimes unworldly air the fact remains that when it coalesces in relatively conventional fashion, as it does at approximately the fifteen minute mark of the same piece, it does so with all the uncontrived but magical logic of musicians thinking as one.
By comparison with what precedes it, the following "Bozcaada" is even more concentrated, and not merely by dint of its relative brevity. The underlying mood of the music is a touch more fractious and indeed less expansive but the passing preoccupation with transcending the limits of conventional tonality makes for something intriguing, especially in view of Dresser's near percussive use of the bow and the presence of sounds not easily attributable to either of the instruments present. Maroney shows how vital the hyperpiano is to his method of expression by the facile way in which he makes a keyboard instrument sound like anything but, but for him that's no end in itself.




MARK DRESSER/DENMAN MARONEY - Live In Concert (Kadima 18; Israel) Featuring Mark Dresser on contrabass and Denman Maroney on hyper-piano, recorded live at last year's (2008) Vision Fest. The final show of the first night featured the longtime duo of Denman Maroney on prepared piano and Mark Dresser on contrabass. This duo has worked together in different combinations for more than a decade, and you could tell by the way they explore sounds in similar ways. Denman works inside the piano with metal bowls and uses other objects to mute and manipulate the strings. Mark as well is a master of exploring odd and unique sounds on his acoustic bass. They both bend their strings in ways that make it hard to tell who is doing what without looking closely. Their set unfolded in an organic way with a variety of eerie sounds that were not always melodic, yet remained effective and fascinating nonetheless. Their set had a dream-like quality with odd twisted sounds floating in a hypnotic haze.




Enregistrés à Chicago en 2001 et au Vision Festival 2008, Maroney au piano et Dresser à la basse semblent étirer indéfiniment un fil musical dans une activité fébrile et passionnante. Les deux sources utilisées pour ce disque sont d'une unité sonore et musicale frappante, les deux musiciens manifestent une très grande maîtrise à la fois des techniques musicales classiques et du son qui est la matière première de l'improvisation. Au point qu'ils semblent se laisser jouer par la musique. Être attentif avec cette acuité, agir avec cette vitesse, cette précision et cette élégance de vérité est un art profond et joyeux. Le piano de Denman Maroney, hyperpiano ainsi qu'il le nomme puisqu'il a fait de l'usage du piano préparé une étude très approfondie (disponible sur son site), est un déluge qui tombe sur le crâne de l'auditeur, une mousson de bonheur sonore. Mark Dresser n'est pas en reste de créativité, et traite sa contrebasse comme du chewing-gum pour l'adapter à toutes les configurations. Le duo écoule sa musique comme le fait un ruisseau, à chaque instant se choisit la ligne de plus grande pente, imprévisible, sans cesse réorienté. Un grand disque.



You'll be happy to know that the following has been selected by AllAboutJazz-New York as a "BEST OF 2008" in the below category, to be published in our January 2009 issue:
AllAboutJazz-New York Best Performance of the Year (selected by Laurence Donohue-Greene) (Jun.10th) Denman Maroney/Mark Dresser @Clemente Soto Velez (Vision Festival) @Vision Festival - June 11, 2008 Thanks and congratulations, and keep up all the great work you do for the art of music!