Reveal is drummer and composer, the German-based Mareike Wiening’s (Mar-eye-kuh Vee -ning) third album for Dave Douglas’s Greenleaf Music. We covered her second, 2021’s Future Memories, on these pages and much remains intact not only in terms of personnel but also in outlook, namely that her band, spread throughout the world, will regale in the joy of playing music for healing and hope. The quintet, originally formed in 2014, is pianist Glenn Zaleski, tenor saxophonist Rich Perry, guitarist Alex Goodman, and bassist Johannes Felscher. Dave Douglas sits in on trumpet for three of the eight, all but one composed by Wiening. Unlike Future Memories though, this album, like her first was recorded in Brooklyn. Wiening produced the album and states modestly that she is not technically a composer but only has this band in mind when she’s writing, knowing they can translate what’s in her head. She shuns the spotlight in terms of ostentatious soloing in service to the composition itself. Just the fact that she appears on the Greenleaf label is a testament to the total freedom she’s given to deliver her music.
Nonetheless Wiening is prominent in the opening “Time for Priorities” which features strong unison parts from the frontline and later a rather unexpected psychedelic interchange between the leader and Goodman, playing a backwards mutated guitar that follows a fervent, heated solo from Perry. Afterwards a Latin groove develops, as if to take us from the darkness to the light, the prevailing theme of her compositions. She wrote “Choral Anthem” with Douglas in mind. He makes the first of his three appearances here, initially accompanied only by Weining before the other members enter for this rather abstract tune, that features intriguing harmonics between the three front liners, dissonance from Zaleski and Goodman, and zephyrs of snare and cymbal flourishes from the leader. She’s in Art Blakey mode introducing the title track with Douglas still aboard and in blistering form on the swinging, uplifting tune where we also hear animated statements from Goodman and Zaleski as well as potent unison playing that culminates explosively.
The drummer switches to brushes for “Encore,” initially a feature for the bassist before a head develops a minute and a half in, dissolving in favor of a deliberate, increasingly intense solo from Perry. The full quintet restates the theme, again with strong resolution in the close. Just the few opening notes from Goodman and Zaleski harbinger an intricate tune and “Declaration of Truth” indeed unfolds as such, with Perry blowing melodically over the start-and-stop rather twitchy rhythm pattern that blossoms into a kind of exuberant swing before fading for an exchange between Perry and Goodman, only to resume with ferocious momentum in the exhilarating last couple of minutes, decelerating with Perry until Goodman and Zaleski reprise their intro going out.
The only tune not composed by Wiening is “Balada,” an adaptation of a classical piece by 19th Century Romanian composer Ciprian Porumbescu. Wiening was inspired by the war and Ukraine and began to search for a classical or folk tune that would be appropriate, falling in love with the melody of this one, which is simply beautiful. “Old Beginning” is a feature for the pianist as the tune salutes rebirth but has a sly melancholy embedded in the tone as if to ask why are starting over because we’ve been through this before, as reflected by some of the repetitive passages. Douglas returns for the delicate but brimming closing ballad, “The Girl by the Window,” named for the famous painting by American Impressionist T.C. Steele.
Today, more so than ever seemingly, drummers have assumed multiple roles. Think in terms of Terri Lyne Carrington, Johnathan Blake, Allison Miller, Kendrick Scott, Nate Smith, Makaya McCraven, and Ches Smith to name just a few. Mareike Wiening proves that she belongs in this same conversation with this impressive third effort which clearly puts her intricate compositions front and center with her drumming, skilled as it is, in service to her detailed writing for her tightly knit quintet that’s been together now for almost a decade, augmented here on a few by label head and trumpeter Dave Douglas.
- Jim Hynes
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