On Saturday, October 2, a new trio of Denman Maroney, John Morton and Miguel Frasconi are performing at The Stone in Alphabet City. I can't make it, as I'll be preoccupied with this year's Views From the Avant-Garde (the only affordable part of the New York Film Festival), but fans of far-left improvised music should definitely check it out.
Maroney plays piano--or more properly, "hyperpiano," a term he coined to describe his surgical approach to the instrument. Using a 6-foot grand, Maroney sounds off notes with one hand while playing the inner strings with the other. The techniques are heavily influenced by composers like Cage, Cowell and Crumb, though Maroney has invented his own unique improvised vocabulary. "We recorded a realization of Stockhausen's Kurzwellen, a piece in which each player imitates a shortwave radio. I borrowed a couple of glockenspiel keys and started using them as slides--thus, the birth of hyperpiano" (interview with Marc Medwin, All About Jazz NY, August 2010). Aside from the use of his hands, Maroney also employs the following tools (taken from his website):
# 2 rectangular copper bars, both 6 inches long, 1.75 inches wide and 5/8 inches thick.
# 2 solid steel cylinders 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter (very heavy)
# 3 Tibetan singing bowls of various sizes.
# 2 aluminum flatware knives with blunt tips.
# 2 rectangular sheets of reinforced rubber (made from tire tread) approx. 6 in. long, 3 in. wide and 3/8 in. thick.
# 2 rectangular plastic audio cassette boxes with protruding lids, and 2 CD boxes.
# 1 plastic bottle with opposing curved and indented flat sides. It is 8.25 inches tall, 3.5 inches wide, and 3 inches thick. The mouth is 2.25 inches in diameter. It also has a lid, which I don't use.
# 2 pairs of marimba mallets, one with yarn heads and plastic handles and one with rubber heads and wooden handles.
# 1 potato masher with a round convex face, cross woven tines and a wooden handle (it's an antique).
# 1 copper cow bell with clapper.
Though he spent much of the 80s working full time in advertising, his recording activity over the past 15 years has been interesting to say the least.
His most recent release is Gleam (Porter, 2010), a duet with composer Miguel Frasconi whose work with glass objects is probably the most intensive since Annea Lockwood's The Glass World. Both musicians descend from the pedagogical influence of James Tenney, albeit at different schools (Maroney at CalArts, Frasconi at York University), and both share an admiration for the music of Cowell and Ives. Frasconi also plays (according to his website):
glass (bowed, struck, blown, cracked), mbira (aka kalimba, thumb piano), piano, toy piano, synthesizers/samplers, laptop computer, crackle box, Buchla Lightning, Buchla Thunder, hand drums, ping-pong balls, bamboo flutes, bird whistles, zithers, gamelan.
I do not know John Morton's pedigree, but he will be performing with the duo on music box and laptop. The show is $10--cheaper than a movie and probably more interesting than most things currently playing.
Maroney/Morton/Frasconi will be at The Stone on Saturday, October 2, 8 PM. Corner of Avenue C and Second St.