Nov 24, 2019
An in-demand sidewoman on the jazz scenes of both New York City and her native Nuremberg, Germany, drummer Mareike Wiening asserts her talents as composer, player and bandleader on Metropolis Paradise, her first full-length CD and debut on Dave Douglas’ Greenleaf Music label. Ms. Wiening's latest outing features her steady bassist Johannes Felscher, outstanding Toronto-born guitarist Alex Goodman (winner of the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival Guitar Competition in 2014) and veteran tenor saxophonist Rich Perry (longstanding member of the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra).
Pianist Dan Tepfer (longtime collaborator with alto sax legend Lee Konitz) was a last-minute replacement for Wiening's regular pianist Glenn Zaleski, who had suffered a broken elbow from a bike accident seven days before the recording took place. "I wanted to reschedule," said Wiening, "but a day later I learned that we were going to be the very last session to be recorded at Systems Two. It was a big dream for me to record at the legendary Systems Two Studio in Brooklyn, so rescheduling wasn't an option anymore.”
While Mareike's highly interactive drumming fuels this spirited session, it's the breadth and depth of her eight challenging compositions, along with her gift for melody and lyricism, that truly predominate throughout Metropolis Paradise. And her stellar sidemen rise to the occasion with impeccable execution and inspired soloing from track to track.
Mareike began studying piano at age five and participated in classical competitions in Germany until she was 16. She began exploring the drums for the first time then, later playing in the German Jazz Youth Orchestra. Thanks to a two-year scholarship from Germany, in 2012 she moved to New York to study at New York University, where she studied with veteran drummer Tony Moreno. During her second year at NYU she began studying with vibraphone ace Stefon Harris, a pivotal period in her musical and compositional development.
As a member of the band, Mareike is the steady pulse of the group, rarely reaching for excessive fills or solos. This serves her collaborators well, especially Tepfer, one of the finest pianists of the day. Her compositions bear out her classical background, rarely swinging out or following a straight ahead approach, Instead, each tune on Metropolis Paradise is subtly crafted and recorded, from waltzes to introspective pieces with interesting and shifting time signatures.
Podcast 712 is my conversation with Mareike Wiening, as we discuss her background and the tunes on the CD, including the waltz time “For a Good Day”; “Viewpoints”; the upbeat “Relations”; and "Free At Last," originally written for a commission in 2018 and making the musical comparison between Martin Luther’s "About the Freedom of a Christian Man” and Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech.