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Tobias Meinhart: The Painter (Sunnyside)

A review of the saxophonist's album tying the world of music to the world of visual art

Cover of The Painter by Tobias Meinhart.
Cover of The Painter by Tobias Meinhart.

Over the past year, saxophonist Tobias Meinhart spent significant time discussing the analogous nature of music and visual art with painter Igor Sokol. He became fascinated with similarities and parallels, in part because he experiences something akin to chromesthesia when he plays saxophone. Through his conversations with Sokol, he found even more reason to tie these two worlds together—as he does on this aptly titled set.

Fronting a first-rate band with pianist Eden Ladin, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Obed Calvaire, and adding trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and guitarist Charles Altura as special guests, Meinhart makes the most of each opportunity to cover a canvas. The wired “White Bear,” featuring Altura, places an insistent melody and crackerjack soloing over a jittery, odd-metered foundation. “Oak Tree” stands tall, ruminating while revealing quiet strengths and close lines from Meinhart and Jensen. “Movement,” inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests, promotes hopeful feelings through circular motion and driving time. And the title track, ushered in by Penman’s overtone-rich introduction, deals in wafting multiphonics and swirling sensations.

Opening the second half of the album by adopting the call of the chickadee, Meinhart starts on alto flute and switches to tenor saxophone while playing both against and with Jensen in the electrified “Bird Song.” Then he moves gracefully through Bruno Martino’s “Estate,” tracing the composition’s beautiful curves and exiting with electric adornments; waltzes across “Neowise”; digs deep on “The Last Dance,” which finds footing in spiritual realms; and uses his voice (and soprano saxophone) to sing a song of optimism on “Dreamers.” Finding the proper color scheme(s) to capture each and every story in sound, Meinhart illustrates a visual-aural convergence and overlap with remarkable clarity and creativity.

Learn more about The Painter on Amazon!

Tobias Meinhart: Berlin People (Sunnyside)

Dan Bilawsky

Dan Bilawsky has been involved in jazz journalism for 15 years. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, JAZZed, and All About Jazz, among other outlets. In addition, he’s penned liner notes for artists on Red, Capri, HighNote/Savant, Ropeadope, and other respected imprints. A band director with 20 years of teaching experience, he holds degrees in music from Indiana University, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Five Towns College.