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Lee Meehan: Some Of Us Are Looking At The Stars

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Lee Meehan: Some Of Us Are Looking At The Stars
Guitarist Lee Meehan has been a key player in Dublin blues and soul bands since the early 2000s. The blues proved to be a handy apprenticeship for the jazz degree Meehan would later pursue, graduating from Dublin City University in 2019. And it is to jazz that Meehan turns on his debut album as leader, a vehicle not just for his considerable six- string agility, but for his compositional, arranging and leadership qualities as well.

Nor has Meehan cut any corners, for in tenor saxophonist Michael Buckley, pianist Scott Flanigan, bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Darren Beckett, the guitarist has roped in four of Ireland's finest—jazz musicians of pedigree who would grace any setting.

Meehan and Buckley jointly announce the melody of lively opener "Boppin' For Pat," a synchronicity that sets the template for the album as a whole, and a stylistic device that provides the seven tunes with a unifying identity. There are echoes of Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker's late 1980s quintet, but any similarities are fleeting. For starters, the "Pat" in the aforementioned title is Dublin blues stalwart Pat Farrell. More significantly, Meehan's playing in general draws from the well of an older generation of jazz guitarists.

This is a classic jazz guitar album in many ways, a throwback to the 1960s, when Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery and George Benson were in their pomp. Meehan's language is grounded in post-bop, with a blues vein coloring his every elegant run and each dancing, Montgomery-esque chord sequence that he delivers on his John Moriarty 'Nemesis' archtop.

Meehan, Redmond and Beckett have been frequent collaborators over the years, but so tight are the group dynamics, so fluid the exchanges, that it belies the fact that the quintet gigged for the first time just the night before entering the recording studio. Collective familiarity with this language was clearly a cementing factor, but Meehan's soulfulness brings out the best in the musicians around him.

The head-solos-head formula may be tried and tested, but any familiarity is trumped by Meehan's especially bright melodies and outstanding playing from one and all. Redmond, who delivers a killing ostinato on "Danu," also wrote the swinger "CBGB's," whose finale sees Buckley and Beckett rip loose over a guitar vamp to exhilarating effect.

On a varied set, swing and post-bop burners rub shoulders with Latin-tinged melodicism, and on "Only Leonie," tender balladry. On this latter, Meehan displays a finesse and lightness of touch that is quite beguiling. Tadd Dameron's memorably tuneful "On a Misty Night," which originally featured John Coltrane, fits snugly alongside the other tunes, which speaks volumes for Meehan's writing and overall vision.

It would be easy to take Meehan's technical prowess for granted, so familiar is the language he trades in. But what is not so simple to dismiss is the emotional currency in his playing. This is also true of Buckley, Flanigan, Redmond and Beckett. A coincidence? There is no such thing.

An impressive debut—beautifully co-produced by Meehan and Buckley—that uplifts as it entertains. Meehan's own star is very much in the ascendancy.

Track Listing

Boppin' For Pat; Danu; Some of us are Looking at the Stars; Make it Monk; Only Leonie; On a Misty Night; CBGB's.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Some Of Us Are Looking At The Stars | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced


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