Mella Mella – Mystery and Joy

Posted by rwiens on 5th October 2015 in CD Albums

I first started playing kalimbas and other lamellaphones while working for choreographer Lucie Gregoire in 2001. At the time there was an African store called Giraffe on St.Denis. When I would walk in the staff would bring out 30 or 40 kalimbas for me to try and I would leave with 3 or 4 of them.

At the time I was at the beginning of an ongoing examination of rhythm that continues to this day. Because of the layout of the kalimbas (left thumb, right thumb) they lent themselves to exploring melodic polyrhythms, positive and negative rhythms, palindromes and rhythmic canons. To date I have written over a thousand pages of rhythmic ideas, explorations, exercises and compositions.

I was living close to Thom Gossage and thought it would be fun to try out these ideas in a duo format. Each of the kalimbas had a name, written in black magic marker, and we started putting pairs together. I would bring rhythmic sketches, we would learn to play them and then improvise. Most of our rehearsals were done outside, much to the delight of marauding gangs of three year olds.

Over the years we would record a dozen pieces annually and before my hard drive imploded (“Wow I’ve never seen a computer do that before”) we had about 150 compositions. Time passed and the commercially non existent duo became even more non existent.

Several years ago I started writing new pieces for kalimba duo. These were longer, multi part pieces which were quite difficult and it took a long time to be even able to hear the rhythms correctly. We recorded these new pieces and originally they were the ones I had wanted to release. To my dismay and surprise, I preferred the recordings we had done ten years earlier. This disturbed me at first because I believed and wanted to believe that as musicians get older, the music becomes richer, deeper and more assured, yet I preferred the older recordings. There was a lightness and joy that the newer duos lacked.

I rewrote some of the new duo pieces for solo kalimba, then spent over 6 months working on them 6 to 8 hours a day until they felt natural and then went into the studio to record them. Dino Giancola, engineer and calm positive presence, did his usual fantastic job giving the music nuance, detail and clarity.

CD Review of “At Canterbury”

Posted by rwiens on 24th April 2013 in CD Albums, Reviews

Martin/Lozano/Lewis/Wiens/Duncan – At Canterbury (Barnyard, 2013) ****½

By Philip Coombs

Thanks to a suggestion from a devout reader on the comments section of my Canadian Round Up review, I was led to this recording from another Canadian group by snooping around for the groups on the Barnyard web site. I must admit, I would have entirely missed this if it wasn’t for his ear to the ground back home. Could have been one of my biggest mistakes of the year.

First of all I will address my elephant in the room. I have never been a fan of vocal jazz. Why don’t I like it? Is it the one sound that humans make that is the most human? Is it because the lyrical is the most literal? Is it because all attention is shifted to the voice once it starts?

Christine Duncan provides the vocal on At Canterbury and it is a cross between a soprano saxophone, film ambiance, an angry cat, and an aboriginal field recording. And it works. As much of a force as she is, she doesn’t dominate or draw attention away from the great moments the rest of the group provides. On “Throwing Light”, she cleverly uses the theremin to further blur the lines between voice and technology and my preconceived notions by adding a eerie sci-fi counterpoint to her growl.

Rainer Wiens (guitar and mbira) has a long history of composition and admiration for world music and intrinsically contributes to Duncan’s drama. This is best exemplified on the track “Corollary” where his mbira is the main focus. One of its keys has a nasty buzz. The buzz returns often, and over time, I was happily expecting it more than being annoyed by it. It became an instrument within an instrument.
Jean Martin (drums and percussion) is all about the power of choice. Half of the time, he let’s things sit in their place adding just enough clever to propel the track and leaving the need to engage to others. The half of the time he turns it up with a military beat that shows his skill on the snare as he plays with power and nuance at the same time. He has also been tasked with the job of keeping the other half of this group together with the first half.

The second half, comprised of Jim Lewis (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Frank Lozano, (tenor and soprano saxophone) make their own mark in various different ways throughout by keeping their improv and free jazz sensibilities in the forefront despite the rest of the group’s complexity. On “Patience Game”, they trade long singular lines that leads into a wonderful conversation as Martin drums up a storm behind them. They will not be overshadowed even as they get to the outer reaches of there respective registers or when Duncan adds another layer of bandwidth pushing them to break away and explore on their own.

Can be purchased from the label or downloaded from emusic.

This is a recording to be savored as the gifts here keep giving as my ears keep smiling.

Orchestra of Sympathetic Strings

Posted by rwiens on 17th October 2013 in Upcoming Shows

Orchestra of Sympathetic Strings

5 Generations of Montreal’s finest improvising string musicians perform

the music of Rainer Wiens


The duo of Malcolm Goldstein violin and Rainer Wiens prepared guitar are joined by:

Jean René & Jennifer Thiessen,viola

John Corban & Guido del Fabro, violin

Emilie Gerard Charest,cello

Nic Caloia, Aaron Lumley & Thiery Amar, double bass


Sala Rossa Nov.10, 21:30 heures



Posted by rwiens on 11th January 2014 in Upcoming Shows

Rainer poster (2)

Malcolm Goldstein violin Rainer Wiens Prepared guitar
MELLA MELLA Thom Gossage and Rainer Wiens kalimbas

4873 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec

Various Tracks

Posted by rwiens on 29th May 2014 in Listen to Music

Take a listen to these tracks from various CD’s:

Fra Ma Ga Ra


A Complicated Sadness

Double Up

Shh… Whisper to the Wind

November Shows…

Posted by rwiens on 5th November 2014 in Upcoming Shows

Malcolm Goldstein Violin & Rainer Wiens Guitar


Electric Spring Trio

Thom Gossage – electric spring kalimba

Frank Lozano – sax, alto flute

Rainer Wiens – guitar, electric bass kalimba

November 26th
Résonance Café 5175A ave.du Parc

Introduction to Infinity: Rhythm and Improvisation Workshop

Posted by rwiens on 27th April 2015 in Music & Rhythm Workshops, Music/Rhythm Workshops
Rainer Wiens

Rainer Wiens

Introduction to Infinity: Atelier du rhythme et d’improvisation avec Rainer Wiens présenté par Studio d’Improvisation de Montréal.

**email to sign up!

Un atelier qui donne les outils aux improvisateurs pour créer une approche personnelle de rythme. Ouvert aux musicien(ne)s de tous les styles, toute sorte des instruments, et niveaux d’expérience////A workshop about giving improvisers the tools to create a personal approach to rhythm. Open to musicians of all styles, any instruments, and all levels of experience.

This workshop will be given in English and French.
L’atelier se donnera en français et en anglais.

(for English, scroll down)

Rainer dit:
”Je pense à mon approche de rythme comme étant modale. Au lieu de penser à la verticale (one ee and a ,2 ee and a) -Je pense d’unités longues et courtes de pulsation disposés dans des schémas rythmiques mélodiques cohérentes. Je crois qu’un rythme forte implique déjà une mélodie.

Dans les rythmes modales, forts accents sont déterminées par la nature de l’expression rythmique, non pas par le downbeat. Lutter contre la gravité des downbeats est la partie la plus difficile, mais conduit à des nouveaux rythmes frais. Un grand nombre des rythmes dans le cours sera présenté oralement en premier. Les rythmes sont faciles à entendre en raison de leur cohérence, même se ils l’air bizarre sur papier, car ils ne sont pas cliché.

Le cours est une introduction, mais donnera aux participants un processus par lequel ils peuvent travailler sur leurs propres nouvelles façons de manifester rythme pendant les 10 prochaines années.”

Rainer Wiens est l’un des guitaristes créatifs de pointe au Canada. Connu également pour sa profonde compréhension du rythme et son imagination sonore, son travail en tant que compositeur improvisateur vien des puits profonds: les traditions de kalimba africain, les abstractions de guitare préparée, et l’interaction de groupe de jazz. En tant que vétéran respecté de la musique créative, Rainer a des collaborations de longue date avec Malcolm Goldstein, Jean Derome, et Thom Gossage, et a parcouru le monde à la recherche de nouveaux sons, de collaborer avec des musiciens et des danseurs partout.

Les frais pour le cours est de 25 $. Les places sont limitées, alors inscrivez-vous maintenant à


Rainer says:
”I think of my approach to rhythm as being modal. Instead of thinking vertically (one ee and a ,2 ee and a) -I think of long and short units of pulsation arranged into coherent rhythmic-melodic patterns. I believe a strong rhythm already implies a melody.

In modal rhythms strong accents are determined by the nature of the rhythmic phrase, not by the downbeat. To fight the gravity of downbeats is the most difficult part ,but leads to fresh new rhythms. A lot of the rhythms in the course will be presented orally first. The rhythms are easy to hear because of their coherence even if they look strange on paper because they are not cliched.

The course is an introduction but will give participants a process whereby they can work out their own new ways of manifesting rhythm for the next 10 years.”

Rainer Wiens is one of Canada’s leading creative guitarists. Known equally for his profound grasp of rhythm and his sonic imagination, his work as an improvising composer draws from the deep wells of African thumb piano traditions, prepared guitar abstractions, and the group interplay of jazz. As a respected veteran of creative music, Rainer has longstanding collaborations with Malcolm Goldstein, Jean Derome, and Thom Gossage, and has traveled the world in search of new sounds, collaborating with musicians and dancers everywhere.

The course costs $25. Space is limited, so sign up now at

RAINER WIENS invitation

Posted by rwiens on 27th April 2015 in Uncategorized

28 aout / August 28th – Montréal Concert

Posted by rwiens on 19th August 2015 in Upcoming Shows
l'Envers's photo.
Friday, August 28 at 9:00pm
1214 de la Montagne

Upcoming Concert at La Brique

Posted by rwiens on 24th April 2013 in Upcoming Shows
  • La Brique, 6545 Durocher #402
  • de Toronto, Halifax, Montreal:
    Rainer Wiens – Guitar and Thumb Piano
    John Heward – Percussion
    Arthur Bull – Guitar and Chromatic Harmonica
    Bob Vespaziani – WAVEDRUM and Electronics
    Guillaume Dostaller – piano
    Olivier Prudhomme-Richard – guitare
    Philippe Roy – contrebasse
    Mathieu Frenette – saxophone alto et sopranino

    Weins, Heward, Bull & Vespaziani is an electro-acoustic quartet uniting improvisors from Montreal, Halifax, and Toronto. These four players present some very original approaches to their instruments and a highly imaginative feel for improvisation.

    Paralune est une réunion momentanée au su et vu de la lune, une rencontre rapprochée entre des objets sonores improvisés. Un mouvement à quatre songes décelable par les lueurs de la lumière qu’il réfléchi.

    At the outskirts of the moon, a brief intimate meeting between objects of sonic nature. A quartet of dreams defining a movement detectable by the unique glittering of the light it reflects.