Dan Meinhardt, Outset (ears&eyes records)
When the venerable Chicago jazz entrepreneur Bob Koester opened a new record store last fall, he initiated a live music policy by bringing in Outset, a quartet formed in 2013 by tenor saxophonist Dan Meinhardt. Koester, the founder of Delmark Records and the Jazz Record Mart, has for decades kept a close ear on rising young Chicago players. His choice of Outset for the opening of Bob’s Blues & Jazz Mart indicated faith in the band’s achievement and potential. This album substantiates both. Outset’s instrumentation of saxophone, trumpet, bass and drums recalls the influential quartets of Gerry Mulligan and Ornette Coleman. With adventurousness approaching iconoclasm, Outset leans more toward Coleman than Mulligan, but its personality is its own, even in a trademark piece like Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy.” Interaction and empathy among Meinhardt, the impressive young trumpeter Justin Copeland, bassist Tim Ipsen and drummer Andrew Green keep the proceedings interesting. In addition, Meinhardt’s pieces—among them the ballad-like “New Rain,” the quixotic “Bixotic” and a blues called “Wayneish”—suggest a composer of substance. This is band to keep an ear on.