Presenting his debut recording on the Munich-based ENJA Records, Natural Perception is Bavarian-born and Brooklyn, New York-based saxophonist Tobias Meinhart's fourth album as leader delivering a rich palette of swinging modern jazz deserving serious attention. On tap are six Meinhart originals as well as fresh new arrangements of Harry Warren's classic "You're My Everything," and Bill Frisell's "Throughout." Though a veteran of the European jazz environment, since moving to the Big Apple, the saxophonist has become a much in-demand player in the city's vibrant jazz scene with regular engagements at various venues, while still managing a gig or two in Europe and teaching at the University of Regensburg.
A member of the composers' collective, Brooklyn Aliens, Meinhart made a name for himself when he formed his own quintet, touring throughout Europe and garnishing awards and first place finishes at various festivals. His American quintet includes renowned trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and Spanish pianist Yago Vazquez among others. The album begins with perhaps his most ambitious piece "Chord," a mid-tempo burner that features a delicate melody, excellent horn work and various tenor solos from the leader on a nice excursion of modern jazz material.
Vazquez introduces the beautiful balladic piece "Dark Eyes of Tomorrow" with some delicious key work in fact, there's a special brief track dedicated to the introduction before the main track highlights the trumpeter and saxophonist playing in unison then diverging in different paths on what seems like a purely improvised, almost avant-garde feature. In stark contrast, "The Effort" is a melodically-rich twist on Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil" introduced by bassist Phil Donkin and drummer Jesse Simpson before the tune is taken over by the saxophonist who offers some his finest solos of the set.
After a rubato duo with the pianist on the slow, warm and contemplative Frisell piece "Throughout," the band turns to one of the keepers of the set delivering a dose of harmony on the outstanding "Native Speaker," where Vazquez takes to the Fender Rhodes as both Meinhart and Jensen turn on the charm. The album closes on Vazquez's original "Chorale" providing the players more room to solo putting an exclamation point on gracious statement.
An obviously talented saxophonist with a gift for writing as well as playing, Tobias Meinhart makes it quite natural to perceive that the collection of modern jazz on Natural Perception may indeed be quite appealing and well received by those who can appreciate the nature of modern jazz today, well done!
Chord; Dark Eyes of Tomorrow(Intro); Dark Eyes of Tomorrow; The Effort; You're My Everything; Effortless Mind; Throughout; Native Speaker; Chorale.
Tobias Meinhart: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet; Yago Vazquez: piano, Fender Rhodes; Phil Donkin: bass; Jesse Simpson: drums.
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