For this outing as a leader, New York-based saxophonist Tobias Meinhart has assembled a team of musicians who are all based in Berlin and have studied under Kurt Rosenwinkel. The guitarist, another Berliner, is featured on just over half of the nine, highly melodic and mostly original compositions.
Within that tuneful paradigm, the material is varied, as just four examples will attest. "Mount Meru" establishes the groundwork for a rhythmically dichotomous exercise that gives Meinhart and Rosenwinkel plenty of space for exchanging glancesbassist Tom Berkmann keeps the foundation in tight order, so that drummer Mathias Ruppnig may perform sleight of hand tricks over the polymetric structure. "Früher war alles Besser" conveys a notion of discontent and longing which is reflected by the title, whose approximate English translation is "Everything used to be better." "It's Not So Easy" comes on like straight-ahead bop, while Joe Henderson's "Serenity" swings wonderfully.
Overall, there's an abundance of energy, musicianly chemistry and technical facility. By combining a fundamentally traditional approach with modern twists and originality, Tobias Meinhart proves himself to be a saxophonist and composer to watch.
Mount Meru; Früher War Alles Besser; It's not so easy; Malala; Be Free; Serenity; Childhood; Berlin People; Alfred.
Tobias Meinhart: tenor saxophone; Ludwig Hornung: piano; Tom Beckmann: bass; Mathias Ruppig: drums; Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar (1, 3, 4, 6, 7).