By Robert Ham | Published January 2020
The relaxed, resolute mood of Metropolis Paradise, drummer Mareike Wiening’s full-length debut, belies the drama behind the scenes of its creation. A week before her quintet was to record, Wiening’s regular pianist Glenn Zaleski broke his elbow in a bike accident. The sessions couldn’t be rescheduled.
That’s a lot of weight to put on any recording, but give credit to Wiening, her fill-in pianist, Dan Tepfer, and the rest of the ensemble for not bowing to the pressure. It seemed to work to the group’s advantage, as the rhythm section pays strict attention to one another throughout these eight songs. Tepfer takes extra care to lock in with Wiening’s quick turnarounds and cricket-like hops on “2 In 1,” and hangs back throughout “Viewpoints” and the title track. His restraint does him few favors in his solos; a turn on “Free At Last” feels pat and a little unsure. But Tepfer makes up for it by retaining his role as this ensemble’s backbone. The extra space left open is taken over by saxophonist Rich Perry and guitarist Alex Goodman’s juicy playing. The latter slithers through each track like a rivulet of mercury, while the former is cooling lava, still giving off plenty of warmth. And that leaves Wiening to flit and flow throughout with the lithe flexibility of a dancer.
Metropolis Paradise: Free Time; 2 In 1; For A Good Day; Misconception; Viewpoints; Relations; Metropolis Paradise; Free At Last. (52:55)
Personnel: Mareike Wiening, drums; Dan Tepfer, piano; Rich Perry, tenor saxophone; Alex Goodman, guitar; Johannes Felscher, bass.