Composer-drummer Mareike Wiening's album, Metropolis Paradise, is a homage to her six-year residency in New York. And what a special time it must have beenjudging from the musica warm, sunny collection of shimmering and breezy beauty. Wiening wrote all the compositions, and they reflect what might be a perfect day sitting in Central Park under a warm sun, watching the butterflies scatter through the flowers.
Wiening's ensemble is very tight, but this does not mean rigid. Instead, it means they play in total sync with one another. Upbeats and downbeats are precise. And this synchronicity helps bring to life Wiening's visions of the city she clearly loves.
Each of the band members contributes to the straight-ahead tuneful numbers. Dan Tepfer's piano lines are gentle and expressive, his touch light but not without substance. Rich Perry's tenor sax is full-throated and his legato notes are joyful, like someone's bright smile. Alex Goodman plays guitar without electronic embellishment and his playing possesses a lyrical quality. Johannes Felscher's round and idyllic bass notes offer superb counterpoint that fleshes out the bottom of the tunes.
Of course, Wiening's efforts are as effervescent as those of her bandmates. Her brush work (for example on "Relations") and her rhythmic ornamentation add color to the musical phrases. On "Misconception," she plays a bit more aggressively, using an accentuated off-rhythm beat which contrasts perfectly with Tepfer's cool playing and Goodman's solo stretches. And on her ballads "Metropolis Paradise" and "Free At Last," as well as the waltzy "For A Good Day," her playing glides smoothly between subtle and emphatic.
This debut effort certainly suggests big things are ahead for Wiening. Those looking for straight-ahead tuneful music will do no better.
Track Listing: Free Time; 2 in 1; For A Good Day; Misconception; Viewpoints; Relations; Metropolis Paradise; Free At Last.
Personnel: Mareike Wiening: drums; Rich Perry: tenor saxophone; Dan Tepfer: piano; Alex Goodman: guitar; Johannes Felscher: double bass.
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