Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Nikki Iles and the NDR Big Band, Face to Face, Edition ****1/2

Big band albums are rare these days - modernistic big bands where the writing is as accomplished as the playing even rarer. Released to mark the 60th birthday of English pianist and composer Nikki Iles BEM who collaborates here with the mighty NDR …

Published: 17 Nov 2023. Updated: 2 months.

Big band albums are rare these days - modernistic big bands where the writing is as accomplished as the playing even rarer. Released to mark the 60th birthday of English pianist and composer Nikki Iles BEM who collaborates here with the mighty NDR Big Band on an album of her own music. At times funkily flavoursome ('Red Ellen') or even nimbly laconic ('Wild Oak' - an Iles track covered on NYJO's She Said issued last year), Face to Face was recorded in Hamburg in 2021 and is a must for all big band fans and especially long time followers of this inventive composer. Pick of the whole album may well be the Kenny Wheeler-like turn the album takes on the poignant title track and the storming 'Awakening' although the Mike Gibbs-like ensemble flourishes found on 'Misfits' also light the album up a good deal. Certainly Iles finds fresh ways to breathe new life into a form that often struggles to be heard these days. UK personnel in the mix includes flautist Gareth Lockrane, trumpeter Percy Pursglove, guitarist Mike Walker and drummer Ian Thomas. A very fine album that everyone involved with should be very proud of.

Tags: Reviews

Mareike Wiening, Reveal, Greenleaf Music ****

One of the new generation European drummers we have been following with most interest since the Lockdown years is the German player Mareike Wiening on albums like Live at Bird's Eye Basel and Future Memories and here she's back on studio album …

Published: 16 Nov 2023. Updated: 7 months.

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One of the new generation European drummers we have been following with most interest since the Lockdown years is the German player Mareike Wiening on albums like Live at Bird's Eye Basel and Future Memories and here she's back on studio album Reveal recorded in the States earlier this year with some of her long time playing colleagues and interestingly guest spots by trumpeter Dave Douglas all part of the blueprint. Modernistic without being avant-garde Wiening's approach reminds us a little of Terri Lyne Carrington's or even Terence Blanchard's. Delivering a bunch of originals and capably backed by tenorist Rich Perry - think Brice Winston a little in his sound - and by pianist Glenn Zaleski, wonderful in the introduction to 'The Girl by the Window,' guitarist Alex Goodman, bassist Johannes Felscher and the album has Douglas on three tracks harmonising beautifully with Perry on that standout track 'The Girl by the Window'. An album that you find more things to latch on to the more you listen - Wiening proves a winner yet again in her most impressive album to date.