Judging by the repertoire on Metropolis Paradise Mareike Wiening is, clearly, just as accomplished a composer of music as she is a drummer. In both crafts she is detailed, has a consummate mastery of form, a sublime sense of melody and harmony and – of course – of rhythm. Best of all she is blessed with an enormous colour palette which she dips into both as a creator of the musical soundscape as well as a percussion colourist. Not surprisingly she has showcased every one of these aspects of her musicianship on this stunning debut disc.
Unsurprisingly Miss Wiening makes her mark not only with the singularly mature nature of her music, but she also makes an enormous impression with this production. First of all there is the inspired choice of musicians. Even the fortuitous inclusion of pianist Dan Tepfer turns out to her advantage. Together with their young leader all of the players convey a strong sense of both tonal individuality and mellifluous harmonic homogeneity. Certainly the manner in which piano and guitar have been used throughout is evidence of uncommon ingenuity of Miss Wiening’s arrangements.
Of course, Miss Wiening’s music is most affecting when it suggests a combination of atmosphere, narrative and kinetic motion, and the fact that I can identify each player as a distinct personality helps to underscore the music’s dynamic qualities. This is clear from the very beginning of the disc – from “Free Time” and “2 in 1”, in both of which the alternation between plaintive lyricism – espoused by horn, piano and guitar – and strutting bravado – evinced by bass, and, markedly Miss Wiening’s drums.
Impressive, too, is the way that myriad small details are given expressive import. Listening to how Mr Tepfer makes his trills into mischievous flourishes every now and then, as well as the rich variety of articulation and dynamic gradation that other players – most notably Miss Wiening – bring to the music. “Metropolis Paradise” is a case in point. And the profoundly meaningful density of Melody and harmony of “Free at Last” is also particularly alluring.
Perhaps few passages flow and swing more freely than the music of “Free at Last”. It is also worth noting that this composition lends itself to both characteristics as it has been expertly conceived by Miss Wiening as a work of exceptional flexibility. This is clearly the reason why its melody, harmony and rhythm are moulded into broad waves that draw the ear gently, yet inexorably along.
Clearly this recording – a celebrated one by the enormously gifted Mareike Wiening – offers musical riches together with performances by all at hand to rival the very best; and this should delight listeners eager for something both musically substantial and free-swinging as well.
Track list – 1: Free Time; 2: 2 in 1; 3: For a Good Day; 4: Misconception; 5: Viewpoints; 6: Relations; 7: Metropolis Paradise; 8: Free at Last
Personnel – Mareike Wiening: drums; Rich Perry: tenor saxophone; Dan Tepfer: piano; Alex Goodman: guitar; Johannes Felscher: contrabass
Released – 2019
Label – Green Leaf Music (GRE-CD-1073)
Runtime – 53:55