A more recent transplant to the city via New York is guitarist-composer
Ryan Meagher. His third disc, Tango In The City Of Roses, was recorded live at Ivories Jazz Lounge and the date’s on-the-spot, heartfelt energy is robust. While Meagher refers to his previous albums as “modern jazz for the indie rocker," this outing is decidedly rooted in jazz. It’s fitting that the one composition not penned by Meagher, “Hard Times," is a Stephen Foster tune. There’s a strong element of folksong in Meagher’s compositions, expressed by his singing melodies and commitment to the gravity and beauty of a balanced lyrical arc. The band makes sure that solo improvisations and shifting alternate harmonies enrich and transport the songs, rather than subvert them. For the country-like sway of the Foster number, Meagher switches over to his Telecaster
baritone guitar for a thicker accompaniment sound and then wraps up a sweetly swinging solo in the Duane Eddy territory.
Pianist George Colligan, who made waves last year with his disc The
Endless Mysteries (Origin), is an electrifying counter-balance to the guitarist with his rapid-fire runs and stabbing, rhythmically intense McCoy Tyneresque left hand. Saxophonist Peter Epstein is exquisite throughout and gets raw when the moment’s right. The ballad “Greenwood" was composed with the reedist specifically in mind: The haunting melody is a poignant wonder due to his mastery of the alto’s upper register. Bassist Chris Higgins is solid in tandem with drummer Matt Mayhall’s probing, interactive pulse. Whether Meagher chooses to draw from indie rock or folk, his music is undeniably
modern—because it holds no preconceptions. — Jeff Potter, Downbeat Magazine, April 2014