Composer/guitarist Ryan Meagher (pronounced “Marr”) collaborates with fishing guide Eric Leininger to tell stories about the Clackamas River that Meagher has set to music. This group features the unique instrumentation of acoustic guitar, vibraphone, trombone, and acoustic bass performing original instrumental jazz. Meagher’s project aims to tell the story of the steelhead trout, the angler, and the river itself. It’s a story of perseverance, about those that came before us, and about those that come after us. Leininger, a professional fly fishing guide and steward of Oregon’s natural wonders tells stories interwoven with the music.
Meagher has been standing in a river and waving a stick within shouting distance of his father since he was a young boy. The constant quest of trying to fool a trout to take interest in the fly at the end of his line became a formative process. Just like performing music in front of an adoring audience, many hours of “practice” casts are needed to earn the reward at the end. And much like jazz music, in fly fishing one can spend countless hours practicing and preparing, but improvisation and a willingness to experiment are needed to have any kind of luck.
Meagher grew up fishing rainbow and brown trout in the pleasant summertime of the Sierras in California. When fly fishing in this more traditional approach, the angler hopes to convince the trout that their hook is a delectable treat. But, the rivers surrounding Portland are better known for their runs of migratory fish, like salmon and steelhead. These fish are more interested in returning to the place of their birth so they can propagate their species, not in consuming food. So, convincing the fish to strike a hook wrapped in feathers and thread is much more difficult, and steelhead have become known as the “fish of a thousand casts.”
Meagher aims to capture his adjustment from a pleasurable recreational activity that connects him with the natural world around him, to the task of endlessly lobbing heavy, gaudy-looking flies in the general direction of the middle of a river while standing in the freezing, pouring rain.
PJCE Executive Director, Douglas Detrick filmed and recorded this performance of “A Thousand Casts” at Milo McIver State Park on the Clackamas River just downstream of Estacada, OR with a small, invite-only audience as the conclusion of the PJCE Records LIVE EP series.
About the Artists
Ryan Meagher is a jazz guitarist and composer who is perhaps best-known for his compositional acumen. As a performer he is also well-known for his flexibility and range. He is truly in his own space when exploring his thought-provoking original material with exciting and sensitive sidemen, but he has also accompanied a pool of incredibly diverse artists. He can lay down traditional harmonic and rhythmic framework for vocalists like Rebecca Kilgore, trumpeters like Terell Stafford and Randy Brecker, and bassist John Clayton. But he can also stretch and provide color like he has alongside very adventurous artists like trumpeters Cuong Vu and Taylor Ho Bynum, bassist David Friesen, and the poll-winning ensemble Mostly Other People Do the Killing.
He has released seven albums under his own direction, including three on Fresh Sound New Talent, and three on the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble’s record label. He is a co-founder and the Programming Director of the Montavilla Jazz Festival, the Director of Operations of the Portland Jazz Composers’ Ensemble, Director of PJCE Records, was previously Editor of the Jazzscene Magazine, and teaches at a number of institutions in the Portland metropolitan area including the University of Portland, Mt Hood Community College, Lower Columbia College, and Portland Community College.
Eric Leininger is originally from Encinitas, CA and calls Oregon home. He spends his professional life guiding fly anglers on Oregon’s Clackamas River, Deschutes River, and Grande Ronde River. In the summer, you will find him making very happy clients on the Goodnews River in Alaska. He has been living in the Portland area for nineteen years, and has been a professional guide for over a decade. His guiding expertise has been recognized by giants in the field as he is one of G. Loomis’s Elite Ambassadors and a Hatch Outdoors Ambassador. As a storyteller he is known for his sarcastic wit and dry delivery. He has been making virtual audiences laugh during the COVID-19 pandemic through Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitters weekly web series, Friday Night Flies—a must watch for anglers in the Portland Area.
Mike Horsfall has enjoyed a successful and diverse musical career for over 35 years, serving as an educator, composer, arranger, recording artist and concert soloist on both piano and vibraphone. He was educated at Central Washington University and the University of Washington, earning a Bachelors in Piano degree from Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon. He has also studied with Gary Burton, Joe Locke, Mal Waldron, and Hal Galper. Mike began his musical career in the 70’s, performing in venues across the country. He settled down in Portland with his wife and two daughters in 1980, and went to work establishing his music career. In 1989, he co-founded the trio Tall Jazz, playing vibes and piano and serving as musical director.
His acclaimed composing and arranging skills can be heard on any of the eight recordings that Tall Jazz has on the PHD label. In 1994 Mike designed a program giving piano students a chance to perform in a professional setting, and earned wide acclaim from the National Music Teachers Association. In 2002, he won First Place (Jazz) in the USA Songwriting Contest for his work on the tune, “Moonshadow Dance” (“Once In A Blue Moon” PHD-1013). Mike has performed with a large number of world class musicians, including Bud Shank, Bobby Shew, Leroy Vinegar, Chuck Redd, Rebecca Kilgore, Pete Rugolo, and Norman Leyden. He has also worked with such notable groups as Pink Martini, the Nu Shooz Orchestra, and the Portland Chamber Orchestra.
Trained in both the classical and jazz styles, Lars Campbell performs as a trombonist with the Oregon Symphony and Oregon Ballet Theater orchestras; he also plays many of the national touring shows that pass through Portland. He is a founding member of the Rose City Brass Quintet. He was the co-founder of the Portland Jazz Orchestra, a not-for-profit corporation which he ran from 2005-2010, producing a concert series to critical acclaim. Lars serves as the director of Instrumental Music at Clackamas Community College, where he directs the CCC Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble. His discography includes appearances on Storm Large’s “Le Bonheur,” Pink Martini’s “Hang on Little Tomato,” Pepé and the Bottle Blondes’ “Pambrosia,” and Portland Jazz Orchestra’s “Good Morning, Geek.” He has also composed and arranged numerous works for large jazz ensemble, trombone quartet, brass quintet, and jazz sextet.
Bill Athens is an accomplished performer on both double and electric bass, having worked as a professional musician for over 20 years in the Pacific Northwest. He studied with Ken Baldwin (Oregon Symphony), Glen Moore (The Band Oregon), Dan Schulte (Jazz Bassist), and Dave Captein (Jazz Bassist). Athens is a music graduate of Portland State University. He has performed in a diverse range of genres, from classical and jazz to rock and studio recording.
Currently a member of the eclectic chamber music group 3 Leg Torso and the funky jazz power trio Trio Subtonic, Athens has also performed with the Rose City Chamber Orchestra, the Tacoma Symphony, Bel Canto Northwest and local jazz luminaries such as: Dan Balmer, Mel Brown, Nancy King, and Tom Grant. He has also performed with international artists: George Colligan, Ben Wendel, Seamus Blake, Byron Stripling, Dave Pietro, Sleater-Kinney, and Stephen Malkmus.
Athens has been a long time music educator, teaching at University of Portland, Clark Community College, George Fox University, and The Great Basin Jazz Camp. He also teaches privately from his studio in SE Portland.
Suzi Cloutier was the Executive Director of the Clackamas River Basin Council, and is a resident of the area that was devastated by the Eagle Creek fires in the summer of 2020.
Ryan Meagher – Klos carbon fiber acoustic guitar
Eric Leininger – spoken word
Suzi Cloutier – spoken word
Lars Campbell – trombone
Mike Horsfall – vibraphone
Bill Athens – acoustic bass
recorded and mixed by Douglas Detrick on June 12, 2021 at Milo McIver State Park, Estacada, OR
cover art and photography by Douglas Detrick