Pat Metheny: Day Trip (2008)

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Pat Metheny: Day Trip
Pat Metheny's -Day Trip gets underway with the up-tempo "Son of Thirteen," bringing to mind the best of his playing, which combines the seemingly contradictory qualities of explosive virtuosity and tender lyricism. In his wheelhouse, the guitarist also knows how to feature the talents of collaborators (eg, Jaco Pastorius on Metheny's 1976 ECM debut as a leader, Bright Size Life) and it's clear from the first two tracks that bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez will contribute mightily to the success of this recording. One can't help but hope for this trio persisting and not getting sidelined as but one project in the multitude of many other undertakings. While variety may be the spice of life, this group possesses something more substantial that, given time, will undoubtedly develop.

While the cynics among us could say Day Trip is calculated—containing a balance of speedy numbers, acoustic ballads and grooving toe-tappers—it could also be looked at as a statement from an artist who has organically brought together the best elements of the open-minded 1960s and 1970s, when musical diversity was more the norm than the exception. The sincerity of "Is This America? (Katrina 2005)" is striking. Its reflective quality, emphasized by McBride's brief arco solo, is a rare success; a piece of music that brings up feelings (and questions) about a current event without the benefit of lyrics. "When We Were Free" follows, its slinky but solid 3/4 beat suggesting a bluesy resolve, looking forward and backwards at the same time, and featuring McBride's full tone and Sanchez in Elvin Jones mode. "Let's Move" might be the most burning tune. Super-fast, all hands play with an inspiring togetherness. We know Metheny can solo over a fast tempo, but the drumming and bass playing (including solos) is musically sophisticated beyond mere pyrotechnics.

"The Red One," which balances a reggae feel with stadium rock power-chords, first appeared on Metheny's 1994 Blue Note collaboration with John Scofield, I Can See Your House From Here. Though similar to that version, Sanchez and McBride infuse their unique musical personalities into a piece that may even become a standard in its own right. Metheny occupies an interesting position in the pantheon of popular jazz artists: while he has made records with accessible melodies and textures that approach so-called smooth jazz, he's also collaborated with avant-garde icons like Ornette Coleman and Derek Bailey. Day Trip makes a strong case for this musical omnivore.

Track Listing: Son of Thirteen; At Last You

Personnel: Pat Metheny: guitar; Christian McBride: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums.

Record Label: Nonesuch Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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