Take Five With Dan Meinhardt
I got to play at The Jazz Station in Eugene, OR a lot while working on my Masters. That place is great; small, but enthusiastic crowds every time. You can go in and play a small group, straight-ahead set one night, then go in the next and play a show of Nine Inch Nails covers, and the audience will be into it both nights. Such a great volunteer-run organization that really keeps improvised music alive in Eugene.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Gretchen Parlato, The Lost and Found. I love vocalists. They give a different kind of life to music that instrumentalists just can't do. That album was the soundtrack to my summer in grad school. The music is consistently great throughout, and the players are amazing. There's a great pop vibe on the album that makes it approachable for non-jazzers, but there's enough headiness in the arrangements and playing for the most geekified jazzer.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
Cookin' With the Miles Davis Quintet.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Sincerity. I know there's nothing technical about what I do that hasn't already been done or isn't being done better somewhere else. What I do know is that every time I get on the bandstand, I guarantee my audiences a good show. I don't ever let myself phone in a performance and I keep reaching for that next level. There are a lot of musicians I know that will simply settle for an off night because they're tired or have something early the next morning; I'm not that player. I give my best effort each time I step on the stage and my audiences can always recognize that effort.
Did you know...
I was once shamelessly propositioned in a coffee shop while I was working.
CDs you are listening to now:
Ryan Truesdell, Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans (ArtistShare);
Bob Brookmeyer, Standards (ArtistShare);
Walter Smith III, III (Criss Cross);
Gerald Clayton, Bond: The Paris Sessions (EmArcy);
Avishai Cohen. Introducing Triveni(Anzic).
Desert Island picks:
Sonny Rollins, A Night at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note);
Oscar Peterson, Exclusively for My Friends (Verve);
Chris Potter, Gratitude (Verve);
John Coltrane, John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (Impulse!).
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
The state of jazz is great! There's so much creative music happening, and so many great players doing creative things. Does it all translate to audiences? Maybe not, but the music itself is amazing. There's already a big shift in audiences that leads me to believe we as a jazz community just need a good publicist. The music is happening already.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
We need to make sure venues make it accessible to the audience and financially sustainable to artists. Artists also need to be willing to work. I remember reading an interview with Ron Carter where he said something like (I'm paraphrasing here) "Kids today are soft. I remember coming up, playing three shows a night, and really trying to make it happen each time." Granted, there aren't as many venues as there were, but the opportunities are there if you're willing to work.
What is in the near future?
I just released my first album, a collection of music I wrote while on the West coast. After graduating I moved to Chicago, where I'm working on setting up a regular gig with my band from the album and getting more sideman work.
What's your greatest fear when you perform?
That I'm wearing the wrong shoes.
My day job is to promote my night job. I'm a musician through and through. Everything I do I try to fit into the world of making more music.
If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
Executive chef. Five-star restaurant. I love to cook.
Courtesy of Dan Meinhardt