Leaving behind a quantity of high caliber instrumental ensembles in the metro Atlanta area, Megaphone Man took top honors in the Critics' Choice: Best Jazz Band category of Creative Loafing's annual awards issue. For many, the choice comes as no surprise. In their relatively short tenure, the trio of bassist Neal Fountain, saxophonist Bryan Lopes, and drummer Jeff Reilly—collectively known as Megaphone Man—has been turning heads with their individual approach to group improvisation.
Megaphone Man has a style all their own, states Jazziz writer James Rozzi. The manner in which these accomplished musicians approach a particular tune will drastically change from one performance to the next. In an effort to maintain their own interests, they create an abundance of spontaneous, razor- sharp musical maneuvers for their audience. One concert with these guys is like a lesson in improvisational wit and daring. With Megaphone Man's turn-on-a- dime approach, one particular song will metamorphose numerous times— harmonically and rhythmically—before coming to a close. The end result is an exciting foray with enough depth to please an audience of hard-core jazz fans—or the more laid back patrons of the jam band circuit.
Megaphone Man is the brainchild of Neal Fountain and Bryan Lopes who, while on tour with the short-lived band , The Apartment Projects, found themselves composing spontaneously during sound checks. Neal would make up a progression, says Lopes, or I'd come up with a melody—often at the same time. When we're playing together, it's a very tight, nearly telepathic thing. Neal can usually tell within two notes where I'm going, and I can usually tell within a beat or so where he wants to go. It's either follow, lead, or get left in the dust. Jeff is right there with us, or he'll be the one initiating a tack by laying down a solid groove.