Chicago-based Outset is a chord-less quartet paying tribute to Ornette Coleman’s 50/60s era energy and makes its album debut with ears&eyes Records

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OUTSET – Outset
(ears&eyes Records / ee:16-o58)

CD/Digital Release date: August 26th 2016
Pre-orders start: July 29th 2016


  • Record release party/show at Chicago Constellation, August 26th (more info)
  • Video for single “Dropped”, featuring in-studio footage available to share: video
  • Tracked live at Chicago’s Locallective, a 5,000 square-foot revolving art space and gallery.
  • Outset is a Dan Meinhardt-led group



Story: Chicago saxophonist Dan Meinhardt’s Outset releases eponymous debut – Produced by Dan Meinhardt & Chad McCullough

Saxophonist and composer Dan Meinhardt debuts on ears&eyes Records leading his quartet of Chicago-based musicians on their eponymous release: Outset. Defined as “the beginning or start,” it is a fitting title for this collection of original music, a boldly honest introduction to this group. Thanks in part to a grant from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Individual Artist Program, Meinhardt has gathered some of Chicago’s finest artists to bring this music to life. On this release, he is joined by Justin Copeland on trumpet, Tim Ipsen on bass, and Andrew Green on drums. ears&eyes Records, based in Chicago, has emerged as a label that champions exciting new voices in the modern jazz scene; Outset’s album is no exception.

The band that has become known as Outset has been a working band almost as long as he’s been in Chicago, though Meinhardt’s relationships with the individual musicians vary in length from 4 to 22 years (Ipsen and Meinhardt met in kindergarten). Meinhardt’s decision to put a band together was the result of wanting to establish roots in Chicago. “I wanted Chicago to be my new home when I got here after grad school,” says Meinhardt, “but I didn’t feel I could call it home until I had my own band. Luckily, I had a number of friends around the city that wanted to help make that happen.” The recording of the album at Chicago’s Locallective was the culmination of two years of road-testing and refining material.

Meinhardt has a patience to his playing and writing, a clear sound without much vibrato, that bears resemblance to Joe Henderson – light, but pointed when it needs to be. “I usually gravitate towards less forceful music,” Meinhardt says. “Players like Joe remind me that you can have a soft voice and still say a lot,” a fact not lost on Meinhardt’s compositions. His understated, less-is-more mentality is brought into focus throughout the compositions on Outset. The collective solo by Meinhardt and Copeland on “Dropped” shows that Meinhardt can still lean into a more aggressive sound found in many current saxophonists, while his subtle solo introduction to “New Rain” demonstrates the great restraint and dynamic control on the instrument.

The quest for simplicity and clarity in Meinhardt’s writing is captured by the pared-down orchestration of Outset. Because this group lacks the accompaniment of a piano or guitar, they frequently play with expectation: “Points for Trying” finds Meinhardt and Copeland using their horns to accompany Green’s drum feature; Meinhardt and Ipsen have a beautiful saxophone-bass duet on “Something Mellow” while Copeland outlines the basic rhythmic motif with his flugelhorn; the subdued “New Rain” even finds Ipsen and Green playing texture more prominently than time. The simplified instrumentation means there’s a heightened focus on melody and mood, rather than getting bogged down in complicated harmony. Says Meinhardt: “I didn’t set out to write a cohesive set of music. The fact that each of these songs ended up being so episodic individually eventually tied them together better than anything I would have planned in advance. I wanted to draw the listeners toward the mood and vibe of each piece.”

The chordless quartet sounds fuller than you’d expect from this instrumentation throughout the set, a testament to how Meinhardt’s writing interacts with these musicians. Meinhardt and Copeland are two hands of the same body. On their own, they each achieve great results; together, it’s a feat of coordination, as on “Points for Trying” or “Bixotic.” At the same time, you have the legs in Ipsen and Green, gracefully and purposefully driving this music everywhere it needs to go, starting with the punk-funk of “Dropped,” through the breakdown of “Something Mellow,” concluding in the luxurious swing of “Wayneish.”

From Kenosha, Wisconsin, Dan Meinhardt took up the saxophone at the age of ten. Upon arriving at Lawrence University, he studied concurrently with classical saxophonist Steven Jordheim and renowned jazz composer/educator Fred Sturm, among others. Following the completion of his Bachelor’s at Lawrence, Meinhardt moved to Eugene, Oregon to pursue his Master’s Degree at the University of Oregon under the tutelage of saxophonist/composer Steve Owen.

Meinhardt’s presence in the Chicago scene is growing, both as a leader and sideman, thanks to his attention to clarity and restraint in all of his collaborative relationships. The insights he gained from working closely with other leaders sharpened Meinhardt’s focus when he turned to the music for Outset. “Because I get to play with a variety of musicians on a regular basis, I’ve been able to talk about and form stronger ideas about my music, finding the clearest way to say what I mean,” Meinhardt explains. He adds with a laugh, “Probably even more important has been finding the times not to say anything at all.” With the release of Outset, Meinhardt has found the perfect conversational balance.

Previous Press:

  • “…as the composition develops, the details show complexity not initially evident. Nice job for a debut album.” – AllAboutJazz, 2012


  • “Meinhardt strikes the right balance between composition and improvisation, traditional jazz and modern sensibilities…[The] unifying aspect to this set of music [is] Meinhardt’s advanced facility for composition…a tenor saxophonist with a great, classic tone and a ‘less is more’ maturity…” – S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews, June 2012

    (Full press here)


  • Produced by Dan Meinhardt & Chad McCullough
  • Recorded by Miles Comiskey at Locallective in Chicago, IL
  • Mixed by Lance Miller at Galahad Productions in Eugene, OR
  • Mastered by Brian Schwab in Chicago, IL

Track Listing/Composer/Length (click-quick listens):

  1. Gooby 4:09
  2. Dropped 3:04
  3. Points for Trying 2:57
  4. Bixotic 4:33
  5. Something Mellow 5:51
  6. New Rain 8:07
  7. Epistrophy (T. Monk) 7:50
  8. Wayneish 5:42


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.

Individual Bios:

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.



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