Magic Triangle Jazz Series: Denman Maroney Quintet

April 25, 2013
8:00 pm

Fine Arts Center Bezanson Recital Hall

UMass Amherst Campus

Glenn Siegel

The Magic Triangle Jazz Series, produced by WMUA-91.1FM and the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, concludes its 24th season with a performance by the Denman Maroney Quintet. Maroney will be joined by Ned Rothenberg, reeds, Dave Ballou, trumpet, Reuben Radding, bass and Michael Sarin, drums.

"There are few minds as agile and inquiring as that of pianist, composer and educator Denman Maroney,” writes Mark Medwin. “Over nearly 40 years, he has managed to rethink the piano’s vocabulary, creating a readily identifiable language on the instrument. He calls his contribution ‘hyperpiano’, a method of playing inside the piano that is characterized by a dizzying and diverse pallet of sonorities that make the instrument into an orchestra. He has also developed an equally unique compositional language. Yet, there is a directness, at times almost a simplicity, in his music." 

The music of Denman Maroney is inspired by natural sounds and the music of John CageOrnette ColemanHenry Cowell, Duke Ellington, Charles Ives, Scott Joplin, Olivier Messiaen, Thelonious Monk, Conlon Nancarrow and Karlheinz Stockhausen, among others. Maroney uses a set of extended performance techniques that involves playing the keys with one hand and the strings with the other using bows and slides of metal, plastic, rubber and wood. He also uses a system of temporal harmony based on the undertone series (the reciprocal of the overtone series) to compose and improvise in multiple tempos at once. In spite of the preponderance of such esoteric devices, Maroney's writing exudes a subtle accessibility, employing catchy melodic fragments that occasionally hark back to the early jazz age.

“Within this intricate compositional framework,” writes Ed Hazell about Fluxations, Maroney and his cohorts create a challenging, enormously engaging work of wonderful rhythmic variety and delicate shadings that blends composition and virtuosic improvisation in fresh, unpredictable ways.” 

Maroney has over 25 recordings as a leader for Cryptogramophone, New World, Victo, Clean Feed, Porter, Innova, CIMP, Music & Arts, Tzadik, Knitting Factory, Soul Note, Mutable and Enja, among other labels. These records have included musicians as diverse as Mark Dresser, Mat Maneri, Leroy Jenkins, Min Xiao-Fen, Matthias Ziegler, Earl Howard, Hans Tammen, Gerry Hemingway, Theo Bleckman, Dave Douglas and Robert Dick, among others.

“Pianists have been tinkering with the guts of their instruments for nearly a century now,” writes Time Out New York, “but it’s altogether likely that no one has explored the art of prepared piano as diligently or creatively as ‘hyperpianist’ Denman Maroney”

Born in 1949, Maroney was educated at the California Institute of the Arts (MFA ’74), Bennington College and Williams College  (BA ’71). His teachers included John Bergamo, Bill DixonJimmy Garrison, Morton Subotnick, and James Tenney.

The Magic Triangle Jazz Concert Series is produced by WMUA-FM and the Fine Arts Center, and funded by the UMass Arts Council.  Additional support from the UMass Hotel at the Campus Center. 



Bezanson Recital Hall is located within the Fine Arts Center.