Berlin Mallet Group

Taiko Saito : Marimba, Arranger, Composer

Julius Heise : Marimba, Composer

Hauke Renken : Marimba, Vibraphone

Raphael Meinhart : Marimba

David Friedman : Composer, Vibraphone



Berlin Mallet Group is the only improvising mallet ensemble of its kind. The members are former students of David Friedman who have since become consummate vibraphonists, marimbists, and artists in their own musical sections. They all perform, compose and teach. The ensemble plays compositions by David Friedman and Taiko Saito as well as performing spontaneous compositions created in the moment.

David Friedman is considered to be one of the most influential vibraphonists in the history of the instrument. Internationally renowned as a vibraphonist, marimbist, composer, and jazz educator. He has his own musical message, born of fascinatingly diverse musical influences. Having worked with varied musical personalities as Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Berio, Bobby McFerrin, Wayne Shorter, Chet Baker and Yoko Ono, few jazz musicians can claim as broad a spectrum of performing and recording experience. A dedicated and renowned educator, David Friedman founded the jazz program at Berlin’s University of the Arts and served as its head for sixteen years. 


The music and instrumentation are such that the collective sound of the group outweighs that of any component part. (See the YouTube clip of “Carousel,” below.) Anyone who has ever appreciated the distinctive ethereal other-worldly sound of a marimba or vibraphone in a group will find that the combined effect of four or five working together is even more beguiling. The idea of creating such a group was inspired. The music produced by the group is uniquely beautiful and should not be missed.
by By John Eyles, All About Jazz


The unique aspect of this constellation – apart from the fact that the aging Friedman has been the mentor of all the others – is that all four members of the orchestra play marimba and vibraphone. Think about it! When was the last time you heard an orchestra that exclusively uses these percussion instruments? I do not recall ever hearing that before. Add to that the fact that the music is improvised – and that the members of the orchestra generally engage with avant-garde jazz – and you surely have an impression of how the music sounds: at times hesitant, at times intense, constantly unpredictable, passionate, and demanding. But – and this surprises me – the music on “Sogni D’oro” is consistently stringent, built upon very clear rites, and woven into a readable pattern that evokes associations with Japanese avant-garde and newer minimalist (neo)classical American music, like that of Philip Glass. The music is fascinating, at times gripping. Never otherworldly or indifferent.

by Ivan Rod




Sogni d'oro

November 20, 2020