Anna Maria Jopek and Friends with Pat Metheny: Upojenie (2002)
I'm willing to bet less than one fan in 1,000 recognizes the title, yet nearly any listener would immediately recognize it as one of most intriguing versions of "Follow Me" (from Imaginary Day ) he's performed.
That's the lure of Upojenie, an album recorded in Warsaw by the guitarist with a group of Polish musicians led by singer and keyboardist Anna Maria Jopek.
The revamped "Follow Me," a pop-jazz instrumental in its original form, gets a lyrical interpretation here from Jopek's lilting voice, backed by what apparently is a children's chorus. The album is filled with familiar Metheny tunes that get similar treatment, along with collaborative efforts on Polish folk songs and several originals written by Jopek and her husband.
One listen to the lyrical world-beat rendition of the Metheny standard "Are You Going With Me" reveals him playing with an intensity and creative spark often missing from his studio albums with the Pat Metheny Group in recent years. His guitar synth solo during the second half of the song features the familiar runs of arpeggio-dominated riffs into the higher registers of his fretboard, yet there is a sense of extra energy infused by the different context. Much the same holds true for the other songsfamiliar and strange, slow and upbeatwith Metheny performing on his now-usual variety of guitars ranging from acoustic to the 42-string Pikasso.
Adding vocals to pop-jazz is often a dubious prospect, turning what may or may not be a strong instrumental song into soft rock mush. For that reason it's almost certainly a blessing for American listeners that the Polish lyrics on Upojenie are likely to be indecipherable. They apparently deal largely with matters of a darker nature, such as betrayal and sex as a metaphor for dying, but it matters little whether they are substantiate or silly. So does the fact that Jopek delivers a consistently soothing and pleasing effort, without ever achieving any performance landmarks. Her voice and those of others become part of the instrumentation and in such a context the consistency makes for a much better listen than any attempts by them to stretch vocal boundaries are likely to produce.
Track Listing: Cichy Zapada Zmrok, Przypeyw. Odpeyw. Oddech czasu, Tam. Gdzie Nie Siega Wzrok, Biel, Czarne Seowa, Letter From Home, Are You Going With Me?, Zupelnie Inna Ja, Zupelnie Inna Ja, By On Bye Tu, Upojenie, Piosenka Dla Stasia, Me Jedyne Niebo, Polskie Drogi.
Personnel: Pat Metheny: 42 string Pikasso guitar (1, 6), electric guitar (2, 8), baritone guitar (3, 9), classical guitar (3, 7, 13), soprano guitar (4, 14), Roland guitar synthesizer (5, 6, 12), keyboards (5, 10), acoustic guitars (6, 10, 15), guitar synth (16, 17), soprano acoustic guitar (16, 17); Anna Maria Jopek: voices (1-10, 12, 13, 15-17), choirs (4), "soap opera" vocals (5), backing vocals (6, 8, 12, 15), Fender Rhodes (6); Leszek Mozdzer: piano (2, 4-8, 11, 13, 15-17), Pawel Bzim Zarecki: keyboards (2, 4-6, 8, 12, 15-17), percussion (4), loops (4, 5), keyboard programming (10); Bernard Maseli: vibes (2); Darek Oleszkiewicz: acoustic bass (2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12-14); Cezary Konrad: drums (2, 4-8, 10, 12, 13, 15-17); Piotr Nazaruk: backing vocals (2), recorder (2), flute (4-6, 15), additional shaker (4), hammered dulcimer (5), additional male voices (15); Wojeich Kowalewski: shakers (2, 4-6, 15), temple blocks (2, 6), timpani (4), crotales (4, 6, 12), bongos (4, 6), tambourine (5), bells (5), vibraslap (5, 12), congas (6), claves (6); Mateusz Pospieszalski: keyboards (2), loops (2, 12), orchestral chart (2, 12), conductor (2, 12); Marek Pospieszalski: turntables (2), classical guitar (8); String Ensemble: strings (2, 12); Marcin Pospieszalski: Fender jazz bass (6, 15), loops (15); Henryk Miskiewicz: soprano saxophone (8, 9); Mino Cinelu: udu drum (8), triangle (8), shakers (8, 12), crotales (8), conga (12), wavedrum (12), percussion (16, 17); Marek Napiorkowski: strumming guitar (16-17); Robert Kubiszyn: double-bass (16, 17).
Record Label: Warner Bros.