Highly inventive jazz creativity Denman Maroney – Martingale


Highly inventive jazz creativity Denman Maroney – MARTINGALE:  Every once-in-a-while, an album slides into my inbox (or the mailbox, sometimes) that stands far out and above all the others… the highly inventive jazz creativity that Denman’s unique keyboard brings to you is one of those… he’s joined by Steven Frieder on reeds, Maroney on piano, Ratzo Harris on bass, and Bob Meyer on drums and cymbals on an album that you won’t EVER forget… the full album is available on YouTube, too…

…you’ll also f


By calling his latest album Martingale, veteran pianist and hyperpianist Denman Maroney is pretty much daring the adventurous listener to take a gamble on the offbeat, angular, hypnotic, often strange but mostly intoxicating vibes he cooks up with his dynamic quartet of Steven Frieder (reeds), Ratzo Harris (bass) and Bob Meyer (drums and cymbals). As you journey from the gently seductive, trippy and ambient title track opener through the lyrical, polyrhythmic endgame of “Sea Salt Sank,” you can also absorb a cool illuminating (and obscure) history lesson. 

See, a martingale is a popular 18th century French betting strategy, in which the gamble doubles the stakes every round in the hopes of surviving even the longest of losing streaks. Essentially, Maroney is asking you to invest in the ensemble’s offbeat vision – and if you do, the outside the box free jazz rewards are plentiful. 

When they’re quoting John Cage in the press materials, you know your ears must be attuned to something truly out there. Cage once said that time is the most important parameter in music, and all the tracks on Martingale – 10 crafty originals and the playfully soulful “Off Centerpiece,” a spirited twist on Harry Edison and Jon Hendricks’ “Centerpiece” – reflect Maroney’s interest in temporal harmony, meaning relative layers of time. 

You can appreciate this collection on two levels. First there’s the aural enjoyment of speeding from joyful frolic (“Blind Love” to eerie melancholy (“Primal Sympathy”) and occasional cacophonous chaos (a few minutes into “Sea Set Wheat”). Then there’s the technical appreciation for the different levels of layering involved; some songs have two layers, others three, and still others four and six. 

Then there are four tracks featuring rhythmic palindromes, aka “non-retrogradable rhythms.” On two of the most intriguing, multi-mood swinging pieces, “Time’s Out” and “Sea Set Wheat,” Maroney shares his hyperpiano mastery, which finds him expanding his sonic palette by playing the keys with one hands and the strings with the other using steel cylinders, copper bars, rubber blocks and – finding modern use for – plastic CD and cassette cases.

ind many LIVE performances when you SUBSCRIBE to Denman’s YouTube channel, as I did. 

Denman’s original composition, the 4:42 “Time’s Out“, will give lovers of unique and tasty time signatures nothing but thrills… he plays what he calls “hyperpiano” on this marvelous track… by playing the keys with one hand and the strings with the other hand using steel cylinders, copper bars, rubber blocks, and plastic CD and cassette cases… an absolutely AMAZING tune! 

The stunning “All In The Loop“, starts off at a nice clip, then morphs into even more creative playing… flawless recording and intimate familiarity with each of their instruments make this a tune that will be getting LOTS of airplay. 

Of the eleven intriguing tracks offered up, I found “Primal Sympathy” to be my choice for personal favorite… be sure to listen to this with your headphones on, so you can catch each little nuance of this 10:03 jazz masterpiece! 

I give Denman and all his players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 4.99.  Get more information on Denman’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj