|Band: Outset Bio: One snowy December night in 2012, an intimate audience gathered to hear the newest voice on the Chicago jazz scene. Rejecting conventional ideas of instrumentation, the works played that night were bold in their use of space and time, encouraging every member of the ensemble to contribute in new and innovative ways. Drums were a melodic instrument; saxophone and trumpet traded accompaniment with the bass. There was no keyboard, no guitar: no comping instrument of any kind. Yet, far from being sparse, the tunes sounded lush and full, the players like varying parts of a well-oiled machine. This was Outset, and the mastermind behind the music was saxophonist Dan Meinhardt.
Fresh out of a Master’s program in Jazz Studies at the University of Oregon, Meinhardt moved to Chicago in the fall of 2012, eager to organize a band to play his music and make a mark on his new home. Bassist Tim Ipsen (Justefan, Tom Matta, The Cooke Book) and drummer Andrew Green (Jonas Friddle, Twin Talk, Paul Dietrich) were obvious collaborators – Meinhardt had met Green when they were undergrads at Lawrence University. Ipsen and Meinhardt grew up in Kenosha, WI (meeting in kindergarten), and traveled frequently to Chicago to comb through the stacks at the Jazz Record Mart and check out the scene they knew they’d join someday. It was an easy decision to invite Ipsen and Green to join the group, both because of their commensurate musicianship and, Meinhardt notes sheepishly, because they were “basically the only guys [he] knew in town at the time.”
But Meinhardt wasn’t a stranger for long. He soon established himself as a capable instrumentalist, collaborating with creative bands like the Carl Kennedy Large Ensemble and the Michael Nearpass group, as well as dance and theater companies and the Chicago Children’s Choir. Praised for his “great, classic tone and less-is-more maturity,” (Something Else! Reviews) Meinhardt kept his ears open, drawing inspiration from musicians in the city’s thriving jazz scene. One of these musicians was Justin Copeland (Gustavo Cortiñas, Clif Wallace, Fatbook), an amiable trumpeter originally from Fresno, CA. The two played together sporadically around the city, always enjoying the collaboration, until one night in September 2013, when Meinhardt’s usual trumpeter, Marquis Hill, couldn’t make a gig. Copeland stepped in, and has been the group’s trumpeter ever since.
One of the greatest challenges of Meinhardt’s compositions for Outset is the absence of a comping instrument. Without a piano or guitar in Outset’s mix, the other players have to pick up the slack, trading musical roles more frequently than normal. Ipsen and Green rise admirably to the challenge, trading their traditionally accompanying roles for more melodic or textural ones as the musical calls for it. These shifting roles lead to the raw sonic honesty that makes Outset so unique. Every voice contributes, and the compositions flow like good conversation over dinner. Outset is unapologetically individual, and after workshopping the pieces over several years, Meinhardt was ready to go into the studio. Working with producer Chad McCullough (Spin Quartet, Tunnel Six, Bram Weijters) in a Wicker Park art loft, Outset recorded their self-titled debut album over two days in August 2015, later signing with ears&eyes Records. The label, based in Chicago, is known for discovering innovative new voices in jazz. Meinhardt and Outset fit right in; their bold, intoxicating sound shines through their debut, establishing them as a group to watch in the years to come.
Since moving to Chicago in 2012, Dan Meinhardt has established himself as an innovative and versatile musician in the city’s diverse scene. Beginning on piano at a young age and picking up the saxophone 10, Dan was hooked and never looked back. An alumnus of Lawrence University (BM 2010) and the University of Oregon (MM 2012), Dan regularly draws upon his training as a composer, teacher, and instrumentalist.
As a multi-woodwind artist, Dan has collaborated with creative music ensembles throughout the region including Carl Kennedy’s Large Ensemble, Michael Nearpass, and Josh Torrey, as well as playing in the pit for musical theater productions with Porchlight and Metropolis Theaters, among others. Additionally, Dan lends his talents as a musician and arranger to The Inconvenience’s highly anticipated Fly Honey Show every year since 2013, as well as several other rock, R&B, and funk ensembles.
In addition to his work as a woodwind player, Dan is an accomplished pianist, and serves as a staff accompanist for Chicago Children’s Choir and the Merit School of Music, working with ensembles and soloists alike. In 2016, Dan also began collaborating with dancers, and now accompanies ballet classes at Visceral Dance Center. Outside of his woodwind and piano performance, Dan has experience performing in and coaching Cuban, Brazilian, and Ghanaian percussion ensembles, symphony orchestras, and chamber ensembles.
Functional as a composer/arranger as well, Dan has written for chamber groups and large ensembles alike. His pieces have been performed by Steve Wilson, Dan Tepfer, and Jesse Lewis, and have been featured at the Oregon and Reno Jazz Festivals. Extending outwards from big band pieces, Dan’s arrangements have been performed at the Fly Honey Show. Most recently, Dan has developed a relationship with La Caccina, writing for their 7-part treble choir.
Dan’s familiarity with a multitude of musical traditions informs both his performance and educational style. When not performing, Dan teaches privately around Chicago and its suburbs, and is a frequent guest conductor for jazz band programs throughout the region. Dan believes in developing his students into self-sustaining musicians, maintaining a low-pressure, nurturing environment within the studio or rehearsal, just as he does for his own professional projects.
Justin Copeland is a trumpet player, pianist, educator and composer based out of the central valley city of Fresno, California. He has been performing extensively as a professional musician for the past 10+ years across the United States and through various other countries. Justin completed a B.A. in music performance at California State University, Fresno in 2011.
Justin completed a M.M. in Jazz Studies at Northwestern University in June of 2013. Throughout the past couple of years, he has had the privilege of performing with and learning from world-class musicians in and outside of Northwestern, like saxophonist, composer and educator Victor Goines, trumpeter and educator Brad Mason; saxophonist, composer/arranger, and educator Christopher Madsen, saxophonist and educator Sherman Irby, trombonist Elliot Mason, and legendary bassist and educator Rufus Reid. Justin is currently pursuing his D.M.A. in jazz studies from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
As an educator, Justin maintains a private studio of trumpet and piano students between Chicago and the Champaign-Urbana area. In addition, he had the recent opportunity to travel to La Havana, Cuba in January of 2016 to participate as a workshop leader with the New York City-based non-profit Horns to Havana. Along side saxophonist Victor Goines and a small collection of other former students of his, the group spent a week of fellowship and learning with some of Havana’s best charter school music programs.
Justin has also had the privilege to perform at some of the most premier houses of music, like New Orleans’ premier jazz club, Snug Harbor, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, House of Blues Chicago, and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC.
Tim Ipsen grew up in Kenosha, WI. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Instrumental Performance/Jazz Studies from Columbia College of Chicago. He has collaborated on performances with such artists and groups as Von Freeman, Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Cedar Walton, Terrence Blanchard, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, and Billy Childs. He performs with the Paul Dietrich Quintet and the Jamie Breiwick Spirits Quartet.
A versatile drummer and percussionist, Andrew Green is a highly sought-after sideman in many of Chicago’s creative music projects. Originally from Washington, DC, Andrew moved to the Midwest to study Music Performance at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. In addition to performing with Twin Talk, Andrew also performs with Paul Dietrich, Abigail Riccards, Jamie Breiwick’s Spirits Quartet, Katie Ernst’s Little Words, Brazilian samba group Bloco Maximo, and the orchestral folk group Jonas Friddle & the Majority which was the grand-prize winner of the 2012 John Lennon Songwriting Award.