Mareike Wiening Metropolis Paradise

Photo by Thomas Kader

A very promising start to this German-born drummer’s career as a leader.

Mareike Wiening serves as bandleader and composer on record for the first time on Metropolis Paradise, an album that flows seamlessly between smooth and progressive jazz. Second track “2 in 1” shows off Wiening’s comfort with off – beat accent solos and cascading ride/ cross-stick patterns. And yet, thanks to Wiening’s propulsive accents, the time signature acrobatics sound eff ortless, never tense or in danger of falling apart. The album’s title track is a relaxed take on rhythm and blues, driven by a backbeataltering 16th-note groove and memorable performances from several soloists. Though Wiening gives her bandmates space to shine, their solos are always built in tandem with her ever-evolving feel for each song’s pulse, driving their playing to places it probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise. (Greenleaf) Keaton Lamle


Penna SoulMagnet

The intriguing third solo release by the multi-instrumentalist who’s worked with prog bands Kronin, Spastic Ink, and Ad Astra.

David Penna has been woodshedding the drums since his childhood, and his comfort level behind the kit is evident here. Whether it’s in “Faith,” “Mask,” “Enough,” or “333,” Penna maintains a constant (or two) in his grooves while embellishing and building upon rhythmic concepts, even in odd times. “Eclipse” is a tour de force: Penna exhibits impressive limb independence, hacking away at a crash cymbal while shifting his kick patterns and spraying beats around the kit. The instrumental finale, “Coda,” could have easily been titled “Schizophrenia.” It opens with jazzy electric piano—a crazy hybrid of 1970s-era Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway—only to give way to grinding guitar-based grunge. Quite an illuminating track that highlights Penna’s versatility in both fusion and metal. (PSR/independent) Will Romano


Jerome Jennings Solidarity

The busy jazz drummer continues to push his art forward on his sophomore outing as a leader.

The most noticeable innovation on Jennings’ second record as a bandleader concerns his ability to seamlessly transition between eras of American music without calling attention to the inter-song versatility. Whereas many attempts at “throwback” stylistic exploration end up feeling like self-conscious karaoke, Jennings guides his band from classic swing into a downtempo hip-hop infused groove on album opener “Be-bop”—proving to be as adept at handling the frenetic, feathered kick drum accents of the jazz sections as he is with the swung half-time hooks. The interplay between cross-stick kit work and hand percussion on “Marielle” mines the shared territory between jazz and Afro-Cuban music (at times splitting the diff erence into triplet-driven breakdowns full of tasty ride bell accents), proving again that Jerome Jennings is among the most capable drummers and bandleaders in contemporary jazz. (Iola) Keaton Lamle


Go: Organic Orchestra & Brooklyn Raga Massive
Ragmala: A Garland of Ragas

This double CD is rife with what drummer/leader ADAM RUDOLPH calls “ostinatos of circularity,” or the mass of polyrhythmic figures in his work.

The tracks on Ragmala: A Garland of Ragas, similar but not beholden to traditional raga form, are innovative in their instrumentation and multigenre influences from across the globe. Not every piece contains drums, but several drummer/ percussionists are featured here (including jazz journeyman Hamid Drake, mainly on kit). Standout tracks include “Ascent to Now,” which percolates with cyclical two-, three-, and four-beat patterns, and “Africa 21,” which provides Drake a platform to respond to different aspects of the orchestra through subtle beat displacement, clockwork kick pulses, and 16th-note hi-hat figures. Stitching together these disparate musical parts could have generated monstrous results of Dr. Frankenstein proportions. Instead, this music is imbued with a sense of both experimentation and continuity. (Meta Records/BRM) Will Romano


Nature Work Nature Work
Human Feel Gold

JIM BLACK delivers impressive rhythms and colors on two dates emphasizing collective freedom.

With a front line of bass clarinet and alto saxophone, and tightly wound compositions that still leave room for just about anything to happen, Nature Work is a modern jazz ensemble whose traffic light is green and blinding. New York master Jim Black has an instantly identifiable sound, and here he teams up with Branford Marsalis bassist Eric Revis for weighty support on out-ish tunes that push all the envelopes. The drummer brings free swing, displaced backbeats, and lyrical cymbal swelling and choking—check out the solo drum breaks on “Zenith” for Black’s staccato bursts and the way he weaves in and out of temporal beats. (Sunnyside)

Human Feel has been around for three decades, and though its members were snatched up into other ensembles along the way, when they do get together, the chemistry is undeniable. Featuring Chris Speed and Andrew D’Angelo on yet more clarinets and saxophones, plus Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, their latest release gives each player the space and compositional contributions he deserves, with writing that ranges from subtle tone poems to loud, aggressive jazz that rocks. Black’s “Stina Blues” is all yearning melody and syncopation over a circular 7/8, while “Imaginary Friend” has some of the drummer’s patented simultaneously spacious yet busy beat making that sounds like he’s got more than four limbs. Black’s presence in these groups will make the music go a certain way, but that way is always welcome. (Intakt)



Belly Dance Rhythms for the Drumset, Part 1 by Ruben van Rompaey

Aesthetically, Dutch drummer Ruben van Rompaey’s new Belly Dance Rhythms for Drumset (40 Euro plus shipping) leaves something to be desired. But it would be a mistake to write this volume off. Modern Drummer readers should familiarize themselves with van Rompaey’s two recent columns (from June 2014 and September 2018) that cover similar ground, but there’s very little direct overlap between the two, save the clarity of van Rompaey’s presentation here. Not only are the transcriptions clear, but the MP3s that accompany the text are recorded well, they’re played flawlessly, and they open the rhythms in a way that even advanced beginners could incorporate into their repertoire with a little practice. Though the term “Belly Dance” is considered by some an insensitive Western catch-all term for the rhythmic accompaniment to classical and folk dance in the Middle East, as a resource for creativity and phrasing I found this volume to be endlessly fascinating and useful. Despite the aesthetic shortcomings, I recommend Belly Dance Rhythms and am looking forward to Part 2. (easternexpressions.miiduu.com) John Colpitt