Ned Rothenberg, bass clarinet, alto saxophone; Dave Ballou, trumpet; Denman Maroney, hyperpiano; Mark Dresser, contrabass; Kevin Norton, drums, vibraphone
Denman Maroney (b 1949) is known for his unique "hyperpiano" style, which involves playing the keys with one hand and the strings with the other using copper bars, brass bowls and other objects. Maroney is a rare example of a composer/improviser who has made "pulse fields" an ongoing platform for both his writing and improvising.
An approach to time used by such American experimentalist icons as Charles Ives and Conlon Nancarrow, pulse fields are rhythmic relationships expressed as ratios such as 3:4:5. Though they are polyrhythmic, they should not be considered to be synonymous with polyrhythms. A pulse field can present a rhythmic ambiguity that is beguiling to the listener, but is vexing to the performer, which partially explains why pulse fields have remained more a tool for through-composition than for works that privilege improvisation.
Fluxations is the first instance in which Maroney has utilized them in an album-length work, which gives some idea of the difficulty the use of pulse fields presents if the material is realized by musicians with less than impeccable ensemble and improvisational skills. For this daunting proposition, Maroney turned to some of his closest associates, Dresser being foremost among them, given their fifteen-year association in various co-op settings. While the résumés of Rothenberg, Kevin Norton and Dave Ballou are not as entwined with Maroney's, they nevertheless exemplify the rigor Fluxations requires.
Within this intricate compositional framework, 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.