Ryan Meagher: Downers
Ryan Meagher (guitar)
Atroefy (Fresh Sound Records 334)
Ryan Meagher (guitar),
Loren Stillman (alto sax), Matt Renzi (tenor sax), Geoff Kraly (bass), Vinnie Sperrazza (drums).
Composed by Ryan Meagher.
Recorded: New York(?), August 26, 2007
Rating: 78/100 (learn more)
Let me be clear: I am not sure what to make of this music. I listened to this CD multiple times because it was out of my normal listening comfort zone, but I didn’t want to dismiss it out of hand. On “Downers,” the liner notes by Meagher (pronounced "Marr") suggest that he wrote this for a friend who he thought was on depression medication. The melody definitely captures a feeling of someone lost in his own mind; in a droning musical abyss. The approach is choppy, Sperrazza’s drums are mostly heavy handed and the whole piece sounds like garage band indie-rock with improvisational forays. The dual saxophones create an other-worldly aura that is slightly atonal at times reinforcing the image of being in a dazed state. Stillman’s alto solo is sparse and creates a somnambulistic mood while Meagher thrashes like a rock player on dissonant chords in the background and Sperranza pounds relentlessly on his toms. The song changes time signatures like a person answering a question long after it’s been asked. Three fourths of the way through the song, Meagher slashes chords like an indie-rocker and sustains notes behind Sperranzza’s driving drums before they return to the saxophones and the melody. The closing seems like the band has run out of steam, mimicking a drug induced crash with the drums punctuating that theme.
New York based Meagher says in the liner notes that this is the best he has to offer. It is not for everyone and certainly falls outside the genre most of us call jazz, but the composition is interesting and the energy level is enviable, and the music tells a story—however disjointed it might be.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello