Earl Howard

Fire Song

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Fire Song presents two duets between Earl Howard (synthesizer, alto saxophone) and Denman Maroney (hyperpiano), plus a solo performance from each. Up to the release of this CD in 1999, both of these musicians were under-documented, considering they have been active since the mid-'70s. "Fire Song" is a composed piece for synthesizer and hyperpiano (which, notwithstanding Maroney's distinctions, is prepared piano). Howard's digital keyboard intermingles with Maroney's very organic approach of the piano. The latter plays almost as much inside his instrument as on the keys. His extended techniques are wonderfully showcased on his solo piece "UnCaged Bacchanal," which starts with the pianist playing directly on the strings (he makes them sound like a slide guitar) and then moves into a strange free-form oompah, both rhythmical in form and exploratory in nature -- a fascinating number. "Pulse Field" is a hyperpiano/saxophone duet. This is the first time Howard is documented on alto saxophone. Two different meters collide in this piece, a satisfyingly disorienting number where both musicians show how much they can leave room to each other. If only for Denman Maroney's impressive piano vocabulary, Fire Song deserves attention.

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