Megaphone Man- Neal Fountain, B Lopes, Reilly: Megaphone Man (1999)
This is a 5 track EP (plus a "secret" 6th one ..total running time about 45 mins.) by a punk/funk jazz trio , which captures the intensity and the humor of the players, while highlighting their virtuosity both as soloists and collaborative songwriting partners. This group is led by bassist Neal Fountain (ex-Fiji Mariner, ex-member of the Apartment Projects with Jeff Sipe (aka Apartment Q258, ex-ARU, ex-Hellborg, Lane Sipe trio, current member of Jazz is Dead and LoS) . Here Neal goes further afield of his previous independent release [ Sun's Anvil, Glossolalia] eschewing all other harmonic support in a whack power trio bravely consisting of his bass, Bryan Lopes' sax and Jeff Reilly's drums. There is scintillating, expansive basswork and instrumental interplay throughout.
To mention some obvious influences, Neal's playing most evokes the influence of Oteil Burbridge and Charlie Hunter and replaces most of the modern-day, technique-driven bass flambooselry like tapping and slapping with sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic playing, including all of the ensemble's chordal work. Interestingly, the sax lays out on every tune here, and when it does, this seemingly ill-conceived concept still works. Mr. Fountain makes sure to outline the harmony while soloing and when the drums have occasion to drop out as well, Fountain proves it's possible to take over the rhythm while outlining the harmony and not letting us forget the song . That's key here, as Fountain's jawdropping skills never forsake the groove or the tune.
The tunes here are notable in that they build motifically while shifting styles, say from N'awleans funk to reggae, within the space of each. Melodies will often start sparingly and grow more complex, along with the groove. Neal incorporates a device heretofore used by only one other electric guitarist that I know of, Charlie Hunter, to add some "oomph," or thickness, to the mix; he makes his bass sound like a Hammond B-3! This sounds fantastic under the sax melodies and/or solos, and is used to great effect with full chords, double-stops and etude-like combinations of single note lines and chords. Often chords are arpeggiated and become doubled on sax, which is used as a device to shift gears or morph the tunes. Oh yeah, the whole record is punctuated by applause; because it's live with no Overdubs! The last cut is followed by a ten minute "special secret cut" which has "live-er" recorded quality, but finds the trio at their freewheelingest.
Neal and band toss this stuff off with an improvisatory elan that reminds me most of, Hunter's trio with Dave or John Ellis operating at its finest than any "basscentric" recordings. This one should be a favorite of fans of what I would call "looser" jazz ensembles in the new tradition of Hunter, MMW, TJ Kirk et.al.
Track Listing: Razor Egg Hunt; Reoccurring Nightmare; Fat Gambling Liar; Miles Of Rust; Bubble Hat
Personnel: Neal Fountain-bass; Bryan Lopes-saxophone; Jeff Reilly-drums