Full Length Interview on Neon Jazz
Jazz Journal (2018)
Meagher's the most interesting new guitarist on the scene since Pat Metheny. Any resemblance tends to be fleeting. The north-westerner uses more blues and fewer country-rock inflections than Pat, but brings the same depth of detail and the same ability to spin out single-note lines with unflagging imagination and originality. 'Heart-Whole' is the freshest and most sheerly exhilarating thing you'll hear this season, but the clue to Meagher's art is probably the self-titled track, right before as unexpected, twangy reprise of the Rio-tinged opener. It might seem odd to name a tune after yourself, but it was originally written and named for saxophonist Matt Otto, who took a look at it, nipped out its more pretentious elements and sent it back. Its 'Inner Urge' lineage is immediately evident, but it's a perfect example of how lyrically Meagher writes, even in odd-numbered time-signatures.
Meagher likes to model himself on Peter Bernstein rather than Metheny, and there is something of the New Yorker's Criss Cross masterpiece, 'Heart's Content', about 'Lost Days.' Bernstein had Brad Mehldau on the strength; Meagher has George Colligan, who's absolutely no slouch, either. Writing and playing are alike skillful, complex in tone and (thanks to Otto) unfussy. The bouzouki on 'Lost Days' was added in post-production and offers solid proof that this is a guy who now knows exactly how to get and sustain his intended sound. McHenry, Higgins, and Ferber offer unfailling support. - Brian Morton
Jazz Weekly (2018)
Ryan Meagher conjures up various post bop moods as he plays guitar, Irish bouzouki and glockenspiel with a flexible team of Bill McHenry/ts, George Colligan/p-key, Chris Higgins/b and Mark Ferber/dr. His guitar tone is warm and wiry, making lonely sounds as he teams with McHenry on the pulsating “Bayou Brasilia" and the gracefully fluid title track. The rhythm teams joins with Colligan’s piano to assert itself on “Whole-Heart," giving Meagher some waves to ride on, while the leader creates a persistent riff for the rippling groove on “Brook’s Little Blues." His tensile tone and rich harmonics are best displayed on his eponymous “Meagher" as his playing and compositional skills point to a positive direction. George W. Harris
All About Jazz
Mist. Moss. Home. is the newest album by inventive indie jazz guitarist/composer Ryan Meagher. Consisting of eight original tracks, it caters to both jazz fans and college progressives. It showcases his talents in producing unconventional, inspiring music, supported by a lineup of top Portland artists.
"The Hipster's Folly" has a laid back vibe into it. The title could be in reference to Portland's reputation as a town of cool kids but there are no creative pretensions here. The song is focused on the beat, which is groovy and energetic, heightened by Tim Willcox' sax and Chris Higgins' bass, conjuring a playful and vibrant sound. The music is very much entertaining in every sense.
"Skip" is a song dedicated to make you feel cozy and at home, generating a sound that is relaxing and comfortable to the senses. Its melody has a stress—eliminating sound that can lift the most sour of moods. Meagher delivers a precise and free—flowing performance, a wonderful tribute to his father.
"Platitudes (For Wayne Shorter and Alex Hoffman)" has a heavier sound compared to the other cuts on the CD. Its thick melodies are smooth, sexy, and seductive. Virtuoso playing is also evident through the superb string work; it's a true spellbinder.
Meagher navigates the album with grace and precision. His creativity overflows in every track and you can easily feel his passion to his own music. He is also flexible with his band, brewing unique flavors with razor-sharp skills. -Jim Olin
Cadence Magazine (2017)
On this CD guitarist Ryan Meagher leads his band in a series of supple and lush grooves. On most tracks his nimble picking knits together with Tim Wilcox’s sax as closely as John Scofield and Joe Lovano. “First
Place" and “Skip" show what they can do riding over a solid, chugging rhythm laid down by Charlie Doggett. They spiral around each other dizzily on “Hipster’s Folly" and on “Vasona" they glide along a hesitant waltz melody that includes noisy effects and shards of psychedelic rock. “Children In The Park" is an introspective country blues with Wilcox doing effective warbling and Doggett quietly simmering on the drums. “Platitudes" is a slow, winding breather and “The Legend Continues" ends things with Meagher playing a trance-inducing line that gives the
other instruments the foundation to slowly proceed to an eloquent, stately climax where Meagher, no kidding, recites a climatic speech from the movie “Boggy Creek II: The Legend Continues". The loose but structured atmosphere gives off the same vibe as artists like The Bad Plus, Brad Mehldau and Radiohead, a feeling of quiet, purposeful determination. This CD is an unassuming little gem.
Jazz Corner (2017)
The unyielding, infectious energy guitarist/electric pianist Ryan Meagher and his band gives off on Mist. Moss. Home. suggests, at times, the youthful exuberance of alternative rock. It's not something one would expect from a jazz album but that's a large part why Mist. Moss. Home. invigorates the most jaded ears. Supported by saxophonist Tim Willcox, bassist Chris Higgins, drummer Charlie Doggett, and electric pianist Ben Turner, Meagher blends his varied influences with startling, intoxicating results.
On "First Place," Meagher offers nearly every member of his group sufficient time in the spotlight, producing compelling moments. When Willcox' tuneful sax picks up momentum, so does Meagher's crisp guitar playing reach exhilarating heights. The deep throb of Higgins' bass strengthens the rhythmic foundation of the track. The musicians unpeel layers of sonic beauty.
"Banter" is a boisterous homage to Hall of Fame baseball icon Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs. Meagher's rambunctious performance complements Doggett's swift drumming. Is it a home run? More like a grand slam as the bases are certainly loaded when Meagher knocks it out of the park.
Meagher's experimental edge keeps Mist. Moss. Home. consistently intriguing. "Vasona" opens up slow and moody, and there is a mysterious darkness to it not often heard in contemporary jazz. #
Willamette Week (2016)
Mist. Moss.Home. named a Top 5 Jazz Album of 2016!
Bird is the Worm (2016)
If just the right songs are played, there’s a way that a tavern jukebox can fill the room with a soothing warmth, to where even drinking alone doesn’t seem so bad. There are qualities to the newest from Ryan Meagher that are more than a little comparable. There’s just four musicians going at it, but they way they accentuate the facets of the melody and embellish upon the rhythmic nuance, it results in a lot of depth and the sense of a much bigger sound than what is actually getting generated. Meagher’s tasteful approach to blending in indie-rock expressions keeps thing solidly in the modern straight-ahead realm, but still pushes outwards to the borders to keep things interesting. Which, actually, is pretty typical of the artists who appear on the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble label… where the borders between genres become landing spots all their own. - Dave Sumner
JazzScene Magazine (2016)
Meagher’s been a fast-rising presence on the Portland scene, and according to his liner notes, the album reflects his ever-growing comfort in the Northwest. He certainly knows the town well enough to put together a stacked backing band: Tim Wilcox (sax), Chris Higgins (bass), and Charlie Doggett (drums) have been a part of some of Portland’s most exciting jazz projects over the years, and their fearlessness and
stylistic flexibility are showcased throughout the record. The first tune, “The Hipster’s Folly," is angular swinger that aims to “farcically condemn… the hipster aesthetic." It is programmed first presumably to draw in a straight-ahead jazz listener, because the album begins to turn left from there. “First Place" is a 1970s ECM groover with a flowing melody, while “Children in the Park" ambles along in a manner that recalls Paul Motian’s work with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano (Wilcox
in particular seems to be channeling Lovano’s husky melodicism). Meagher is a tasteful player with a beautiful tone; high points on the album, like “Children in the Park" and the meditative closer “The Legend Continues" find him burrowing a distinct, reverb-laden niche between Frisell, Rosenwinkel, and Monder. The stated meanings of the tracks, laid
out at length in the record’s liner notes, might not always come through—the entry for “Platitudes" is chuckle-inducing, but that tune doesn’t sound any more like a “tribute to Wayne Shorter" than the rest of the album. Still, this says nothing of what the music does on its own terms, which is plenty. This project should appeal to a wide swath of jazz fans—even the hipsters it purports to lovingly skewer.
Willamette Week (2016)
From the Willamette Week:
[NEW JAZZ] After just a few months, ex-New Yorker Ryan Meagher’s thoughtful six-string sounds had occupied Portland’s finest jazz establishments for long enough that we were happy to claim him as our own. An extreme talent whose lyrical songwriting is matched by a delicate sort of patience, Meagher took his time in reciprocating those feelings. Celebrating his second Portland Jazz Composers release—Mist. Moss. Home.—this evening, the guitarist’s quartet lovingly acknowledges his newfound locale with wistful, modern melodies that create heartfelt scenic homages to the Northwest. It’s a musical portrait which is actually better crafted by a transplant, because Meagher doesn’t overlook the many quirks in the soil of Portland jazz. PARKER HALL.
Midwest Record (2016)
After a decade in New York, the jazzy guitar man moved to Portland with his family and found the joys to be had in the Portland, Oregon jazz scene. Playing like he doesn't miss the mean streets at all, Meagher plays like he's back in the company of the rising modern jazz stars he rubbed elbows with back it the closed in, cramped spaces. A bright, breezy head bobbing kind of date, jazz guitar fans have a dandy treat on their hands here. Well done plucky playing that hits all the right notes without needing one extra. Check it out.
Jazz Times (2012)
Guitarist-composer Ryan Meagher has recruited a group of fellow musical renegades for his sophomore outing. Like last year's impressive, Atroefy, this one falls into the "modern jazz for the Indie rocker" camp. Trumpeter and Kneebody co-founder Shane Endsley and saxophonist Matt Blostein enliven the proceedings with their bristling, thoughtful solos on affecting Meagher originals like "Run and Gun" (evocative of Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra), the mournful "Bad Time" and the pleasant ditty "The Intolerable" (inspired by the rock band The Shins).
Meagher, who is also a facile and original improviser, has a knack for writing interesting harmonies for Endsley and Blostein on the frontline, while electric bassist Geoff Kraly and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza are flexible and savvy enough to easily handle heavier-rocking numbers ("Sherner," "Reminiscent") and jazzier material (the dynamic, free-boppish "Farad's Challenge" and the lightly swinging "Walther's Pond"), a well as unabashed skronking ("Alpenglow"). Fans of Bill Frisell's recent work with horns may dig this startlingly original stuff.
Bill Milkowski of Jazz Times
From an exploding fusion of jazz and rock comes "Atroefy" by Ryan Meagher. An album sure to get your head spinning and your soul stirring, it may well be the best modern jazz album I've heard in ten years. A virtual sonic boom of sound captured expertly for the world to hear, Ryan Meagher has unleashed a gem!
From his early days in San Jose, Meagher was destined to make music that fired people up. Teaming with his five piece band, the musicians handle their roles well, and produce a wall of sound unique in it's effectiveness. Without a word being sung, the songs all got their point across, and had me yearning for more at the album's finale.
"Re: Creation" closes the album on a high note, showcasing the song crafting abilities of Meagher along with the top shelf instrumental chops of his bandmates. An effective way to not only wrap up a release, but to also have the listener getting online and trying to figure out when the next album comes out.
Music has the ability to break down barriers and reinvent itself every now and again. I have a feeling that Ryan Meagher's "Atroefy" may well be a sign of things to come in the modern jazz world. If that's the case, whatever follows has a lot to live up to.
Christopher Llewellyn Adams of Cashbox Magazine (5 out of 5 stars)
All Music Guide
Cynicism and disillusionment can lead to insular inspiration beyond the pale, which is where guitarist Ryan Meagher finds his voice. A self-proclaimed restless soul who finds little interest in New York City neo-bop as mined by countless others, the title Atroefy (spelled incorrectly on purpose) speaks volumes of Meagher's disinterest in making, as he describes it "sensitive, thought-provoking modern jazz,." Feeling that vein has been well-mined with resulting minimal record sales, the guitarist/composer and his twin saxophone led quintet choose rock rhythms and impalpable melody lines that are difficult to grasp initially, yet over time reveal a truly intellectual approach within grungy parameters. Featuring Loren Stillman on alto sax and Matt Renzi playing tenor, Meagher has the tools and power to construct skyscraper lines that extend into that misanthropic world of acumen where poetry meets gothic novel. Stillman and Renzi are very gifted players whose tandem sound easily approaches that of Chris Potter and David Binney, or Donny McCaslin in their sweet/sour approach. Electric or acoustic bassist Geoff Kraly sets a craggy-edged tone that on occasion takes the lead, while drummer Vinnie Sperrazza rivals Bad Plus drummer Dave King in his abject refusal to swing. Where Meagher's sound lies is just on the edge of a precipice without being overtly snarly or even edgy, but it is differently hued and strikingly attractive in a darker facade. The last track, "Re: Creation," contains the music Meagher says is the focal point where everything else stems from. It's a stomp-down tune with Renzi's clarinet circling the rest of the band as they collectively rant and rave. Meagher's rolling and rambling guitar on "Divided Road" really hits home in his and the saxophonist's approach at paradox within split infinitives, while mixed meters in a groove sauce, sped up and slowed down at will, buoy a most elusive, mercurial melody line during the hard-to-swallow "A Familiar Farewell." Potter and Binney's tandem signature is all too evident for "Downers" about a deeply depressed friend in a modal modern blues tack, while the slower "Can't Complane" (again spelled wrong by design) has the two saxes singing on a track that admittedly reflects Meagher's Nirvana-cum-Bad Plus jones. Dedicated to the small town of Republic, WA, "Republic" has only the slightest patriotic overtones in its smallish melody and slow rock beat, with Meagher playing acoustic guitar, while "Poetry in Motian" is for/not for Paul Motian, nicely rendered in 7/8 time. Within this cornucopia of music rather than a microcosm or broadly stroked artful painting, Atroefy might suggest a still-birth of this highly personalized style of sonic-hedgehog progressive music, but closer listening reveals there's so much going on in a fertile and imaginative mind beyond raw emotions that need to be nurtured and encouraged. Meagher is concerned about being trapped in so-called contemporary jazz music that only sells to 31 people...let's up the ante on both counts.
Michael G. Nastos of All Music Guide
Guitarist Meagher blends his garage rock roots with a jazz sensibility on his upstart debut. Meagher is an accomplished player-composer with an uncliched, freewheeling approach to his solos, as he demonstrates on the hard-hitting “Divided Road" the grunge-laden “Downers" and the lyrical “Poetry in Motian." Saxophonists Loren Stillman and Matt Renzi bring a refined aesthetic and improvisational flair to this inventive twist on modern jazz, which is underscored by slamming drummer Vinnie Sperrazza and electric bassist Geoff Kraly.
Bill Milkowski of Jazz Times
ATROEFY – Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 334.
http://www.freshsoundrecords.com. Divided Road;
A Familiar Farewell; Can’t Compare; Downers; Republic;
Poetry in Motian; Re: Creation.
PERSONELL: Ryan Meagher, guitar, compositions;
Loren Stillman, alto saxophone; Matt Renzi,
tenor saxophone, clarinet; Geoff Kraly, bass; Vinnie
A rock sensibility informs guitarist Ryan Meagher’s
new project, Atroefy. As he mentions in a set of
tongue-in-cheek liner notes, “I wanted to go back to
being that suburban San Jose garage band teenager
kicking over a mic during a screeching solo… but this
time, I brought chord changes." To that end, Meagher
succeeds in fusing his potent knowledge of harmony
and melodic playing with a harder edge. Propelled by
drummer Vinnie Sperrazza’s powerful rock beats and
Geoff Kraly’s confident bass lines, Meagher’s penchant
for accessible yet musically substantive playing is given
the freedom to take flight. Memorable moments include
the opening and closing tracks, “Divided Road"
and “Re: Creation", respectively, which both in their
own way embody the principle of musical cross-pollination
that is at the core of Atroefy.
By Dimitry Ekshtut of Jazz Improv, NY
FRESH SOUND NEW TALENT
RYAN MEAGHER/Atroefy: Modern jazz meets alt.rock as this young guitarist goes about blazing some new trails. Certainly nothing here a moldy fig will relate to, there’s not much a punk will relate to either. It is a solid dose of college kid music for young tastes that just don’t get Coltrane’s wild years period and think a lot of 50s progressive stuff is grandpa music. Jaded ears will have new proof a new day is dawning.
By Chris Spector, Midwest Record - www.midwestrecord.com
A Fresh Sound by New Talent indeed!
By Peter Kuller, Radio Adelaide - Australia
The composition is interesting and the energy level is enviable, and the music tells a story...
By Ralph A. Miriello, www.jazz.com
Ryan Meagher (pronounced “marr") is a young, New York City-based guitarist-composer who bridges the gap between smooth jazz and modern pop on his debut release Atroefy. His compositions are the type of tunes you would hear featured in romantic dramas and biopic films, or fashioned into a pop ballad acting as the backdrop for those moments of introspection. Meagher’s music comes from inside himself and pours out like the words from a private journal. He is accompanied by a group of up and coming musicians who compliment his style of playing including alto-saxophonist Loren Stillman, woodwind instrumentalist Matt Renzi, bassist Geoff Kraly, and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza.
Though there is no doubt that Meagher is the ring-leader of this crew, his guitar work is integrated into the patterns of fluxing mosaics and swerving lines. He rarely steps into the frontlines which is designated for the saxophone, the woodwinds, and even the drums have a prominent role in the melodies, but the guitar is often beautifully understated and acts as a support staff through the melodic structures. The listener can actually hear the melodic patterns breathing, taking air in and releasing it out creating a series of fluxing motions like in “Republic." The music forms delightful twirls along “Poetry In Motion" as the saxophone trails a path of majestic spins and the guitar, in its low-key register, follows in a friendly manner like a child experiencing a new-found feeling for the first time. Tunes like “Divided Road" and “RE: Creation" have hummable phrases, which stick in the listeners mind and move to the tempo of ones inner rhythm. The snaking woodwinds of “RE: Creation" have a friendly manner about them and are surrounded by splashing drum strikes and firmly stationed bass beats and guitar spins, it creates a stress-free and festive mood for the listener.
Meagher takes listeners inside themselves, hearing their own breathing patterns through the breathing patterns of the instruments. Whether the mood is solemn like in “Republic" or festive like in “RE: Creation," Meagher shows that there are many sides to his own inner rhythms and others, and that’s a good thing.
By Susan Frances www.jazzreview.com
The Run-Off Groove
Ryan Meagher is a guitarist who makes jazz his home but hearing his playing on Atroefy (Fresh Sound New Talent) makes me believe that this guy can run circles around most anyone if they dare challenge him. The style of jazz he and his band play on this album is very much rooted in the 70’s, crossing styles that you may have heard on CTI, Mainstream, and Tappan Zee with occasional bursts of Weather Report and Return To Forever thrown in, or at least that’s what I get out of hearing Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. He has that Tony Williams vibe to him but could easily play things that Billy Cobham or Elvin Jones could play with ease.
As for Meagher, the guy can play a mean guitar but sometimes he allows the other musicians on the album (Sperrazza plus Geoff Kraly on bass, Loren Stillman on alto saxophone, and Matt Renzi on tenor saxophone and clarinet) take over and help form the musical pictures he creates in his songs. “A Familiar Farewell" is track #2 but could have easily been the perfect way to end the album, on a funky note. Meagher’s way of getting into and under the groove is quite nice, very much in the Phelphs Collins and Al McKay tradition. “Downers" may be an appropriate title for a song that begins sounding like something you’d expect from Soundgarden or Nirvana but the saxophone solo saves it from being a downer of a song and helps take it to a new place. I wouldn’t mind hearing a version of this song performed by someone else, and the sax replaced by another guitar just to see where they’d be able to take this. Perhaps not surprisingly, Meagher does get a chance to meet up with his love of Nirvana with “Can’t Complane". “Modern jazz for the indie rocker"? It definitely works with “Can’t Complane" and yet the union between indie rock and jazz is perfect between the musicians here, not a clash by any means.
With jazz guitarists, either it will be strictly jazz or it will drift off to the left and morph into other things suited to the guitarist’s tastes, and Atroefy is definitely the latter. Fortunately the music keeps itself in jazz so you’ll never mistake this for Tony MacAlpine, but who knows, perhaps the path of these two guitarists will cross and end up creating something incredible.
By John Book, The Run-Off Groove
Yet another splendid guitarist, albeit with a totally different and fresh approach to jazz... as the liner notes say, a kind of "modern jazz for the indie rocker". No matter what kind of "brand" you give it, though, if you have adventure in your soul, you'll enjoy Ryan's music! One thing that seems to course through all 7 brilliant tracks is groove... not all the pieces are the sort you'll sing along to, due to some pretty "loose" structures that allow all 5 players (Meagher's guitar, Loren Stillman's superb alto sax, Matt Renzi's woodwind magick, Geoff Kraly's electric bass & Vinnie Sperrazza's drums) to explore to their heart's content. Though they move 'round the circle constantly, they don't wander at all... tight, tight, & very together! This CD has some highly talented and original players who very clearly enjoy "twisting" your ideas of what jazz is "supposed to be" 'round a bit... I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & expect we'll be hearing much more from Ryan soon! Get more information at www.ryanmeagher.com
By Rotcod Zzaj (aka Dick Metcalf) Improvijazzation Nation
Every kid who's ever picked up a guitar has, at some point, dreamed of being a rock star, and in the opening moments of Ryan Meagher's Atroefy (Fresh Sound), it sounds like the SoCal native has set out to do just that. But the moody, Death Cabby bass riff is soon complicated by layers of saxophone melody and sudden shifts in tone, and we're off into a realm that couldn't quite be called indie-rock fusion but still keeps one lobe concentrated in each genre.
By Shaun Brady
Meagher’s CD is completely NOT what I was expecting at all.
I’ll start off by mentioning what is perhaps the best liner notes I’ve read in a very long time. Self-deprecating and funny, Meagher provides an open and honest discourse on his bio and the songs on Atroefy. His honesty is quite refreshing in today’s overly-marketed music world…
From the opening drum beat and guitar riff of the first song, Divided Road, Meagher and band … make a very clear statement that this is not going to be another typical “jazz" record. There is an indie/lo-fi quality to the songwriting here, something that will heavily appeal to any college crowd; and I suspect Meagher and Co. will be very successful on that front if they pursue it.
[Atroefy] reminds me a bit of a Wayne Krantz vamp with some Dave Matthews sax melodies. (How’s that for a mashup?) Stillman and Renzi provide some very nice counterpoint and harmony lines in the head. Meagher lies back very nicely until his solo, where he ratchets it up ever so slightly. His tone is very nice…
Meagher’s first CD is a good one, especially if you are a fan of indie music AND jazz. Fans of Dave Matthews will definitely like it, and I would not be surprised if college radio stations pick it up and put it in rotation for a while. This is not necessarily a CD that straight-ahead jazz lovers will most likely listen to for years and years, but I quite enjoyed it as a very nice departure from the typical jazz CD.
By Josh Sager of Fretterverse.com
KZSU Zookeeper Online
Guitarist Meagher (pronounced “Marr") brings an uncompromising indie-rock spirit to his debut recording, with catchy hooks and grooves from electric bass & drums balanced by moody, individualistic guitar solos and sweeping saxophone flights. Solid; might fit equally well in jazz or indie shows.
Fo from KZSU Radio 90.1 FM Zookeeper Online (Stanford University)
As for the leader [of Atroefy], it is clear he possesses mucho technique and has a clear idea as to how he wants to communicate his music -- but think more Thurston Moore than John Pizzarelli. Atroefy will probably appeal to those that enjoy Alternative Rock more than those who lean to the six string stylings of someone like Peter Bernstein interpreting Beck tunes accompanied by Dr. Lonnie Smith on the B-3.
Full Length Interview on Neon Jazz