I've been a fan of German drummer, bandleader and composer Mareike Wiening since hearing her debut release Metropolis Paradise. An accomplished contemporary jazz drummer, she has established herself as a distinguished composer with a unique creative voice. I am always very excited to hear new and engaging music from creative drummer/composers these days and Mareike is no exception.
Mareike recently released her new album on Greenleaf Music entitled Future Memories and she was kind enough to some take time to answer a few of my questions about her music and latest release.
German drummer and composer Mareike Wiening releases her second album Future Memories which follows her critically acclaimed debut album Metropolis Paradise. The album was recorded shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19 in her homeland during a three-week tour in Europe.
Wiening’s compositions are lyrical, direct and emotional, as well as rhythmically intricate, maintaining an accessible sound that draws you in. Using a palette of tenor saxophone, piano, guitar, bass, and drums, the group sound is one of give and take, a musical dialogue between soloist and accompanist.
The New York Times calls it, “original music with a planar, modulating harmonic language and a propulsive drift. Her language is part chamber jazz, part big-boned rock percussion, part free improvisation.”
Interview with Mareike Wiening - January 2022
1) Tell us about your latest recording! How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?
Rich Perry was always a saxophonist who I really admired and whose sound I always loved. I met him at NYU and we got to jam a couple times. I knew that there would be almost no other horn player who I would love to have in my band. One day I asked him and he said yes! I couldn’t believe it.
Alex Goodman moved to NY at the same time I did. I meet him through common friends. Although he studied at MSM, we managed to play a lot and I always felt super comfortable playing with him. I love his energy and the way he solos. It’s only because of him and his musicality that I actually have a guitar in my band.
Johannes Felscher joined later. I tried out a couple of other bass players before him but Johannes seemed to fit in the band the best. He has a huge sound and is very versatile.
Glenn Zaleski also joined later. I never played with a piano player who serves the music as well as Glenn. He always finds the best way of playing a melody or comping. He has this thing of always making the song sound better than I ever imagined.
As far as the repertoire goes: My goal is always to have a broad spectrum of different musical pieces but together they fit into a specific picture. For me it’s very important the each tunes has its own personality and that there is a common thread throughout the piece.
2) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did? Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?
Future Memories has a philosophical layer. The eight pieces on this CD were written before the COVID crisis, much like the studio sessions. For that reason, the album provides an idea of what improvised music and jazz are capable of: establishing an imaginary point in time in the future from which the present can be reflected upon as something already past. My band is scattered all over the world. We live in different time zones and are separate from each other. But our cohesion in the past, what we have experienced together and our music will get us through the difficult present. We will stay positive. That seems more necessary than ever in turbulent times like these.
3) Who are your influences, as a drummer and composer, and why?
Elvin Jones is a drummer who influenced me a lot, especially when I started playing jazz. Another one is Max Roach. They both have such a unique way of playing the drums and supporting the band the best way possible. I also love the way how Bill Stewart plays because of his amazing touch and phrasing. I think it’s very important to imitate and emulate your heroes in an early age. It’s a way of learning the tradition and phrasing. I think it’s very important to do that in order to find your own voice. I always loved to transcribe solos and accompaniments and I still do it sometimes. These days I’m more interested in develop it further to find my own ideas out of it.
I studied composition with Stefon Harris who was very influential on me and pushed me to start a band and record my music. Another important influence was Guillermo Klein.
4) What are you practicing and listening to these days?
I’m practicing rudiments and working on different transcriptions. Right now it’s Philly Joe Jones on different recordings. I love transcribing a lot and you always find new stuff that you can develop in your own style.
I’m listening to Maria Schneider’s Data Lords, Sullivan Fortner Trio, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Paris Monster
5) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?
I have a couple of different projects on the go in Germany with pianist Gee Hye Lee, trombonist Clemens Gottwald and a project coming up with German/Amercian pianist Monik Herzig as well as with Carmen Staaf in the US.
6) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz drummers and drummers who aspire to compose their own music?
It’s important to be humble and to work hard. Musicians should not be afraid talking to peers, take lessons, study as much as possible and try out different ideas. I always brought new pieces to jam session to get a first idea of how the song sounds with a band. In the beginning it’s very scary but once you push yourself and be open to other people opinions, you can grow and your music gets better.
For more information about Mareike and her music, please visit www.mareikewiening.com