Live at the Tabernacle

Megaphone Man

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Live at the Tabernacle Review

by Michael G. Nastos

Megaphone Man are a contemporary jazz trio from the Athens/Atlanta, GA, area, playing primarily youth-oriented funk à la Medeski, Martin & Wood, with the addition of a tenor saxophonist, in this case Bryan Lopes. Modulus electric bass guitarist Neal Fountain and drummer Jeff Reilly stick to established parameters of fusion and rock techniques, while Lopes stretches out in a brawny manner, distinctly influenced by John Coltrane, Joe Lovano, and Michael Brecker. There are overblown harmonics, lots of notes, a power trio aesthetic, and a good deal of stretching on these five selections. The CD was recorded in live performance at the Tabernacle Concert Hall in Atlanta, with the band opening for Maceo Parker. There's a pedantic approach that filters through the set, starting with repeated phrases that are more plodding and cloying during "Razor Egg Hunt" but also playful and whimsical in "Bubble Hat." They change up a bit on the free-floating "Reoccurring Nightmare," with a airy Arabic feel from Fountain; mix up a New Orleans shuffle with loping funk for the slower "Fat Gambling Liar"; and definitely reflect Miles Davis metaphors à la the In a Silent Way/pre-Bitches Brew period on "Miles of Rust." Individually these three have distinct talent, as Fountain's deft and broad-ranging lines and Reilly's non-swing-oriented drumming buoy the overblown flurry of furious runs that Lopes favors. There's an occasional background keyboard sound present that is not attributed to a fourth member. The program is LP short at about 45 minutes, and shows a limited conceptual variety likely more stretched over three sets in a nightclub. Megaphone Man were named by locals as the top jazz band in Atlanta, and are quite competent, but they will need to demonstrate a bigger repertoire, à la Boston's similarly configured legendary trio the Fringe, to appeal to a more challenge-ready audience.

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