Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up (2005)
The Way Up marks guitarist Pat Metheny's debut release on the Nonesuch label. Metheny fans are in for treat, 68 uninterrupted minutes of pure Pat Metheny Group, inconspicuously evident upon recognizing the CD's four tracks, "Opening," "Part One," "Part Two," and "Part Three." Each movement, appropriately called because every track aside from "Opening" ranges from 15 minutes to over 25, builds upon its predecessor and paints a colorful mural of the group's mission.
"Opening" is classic Metheny, i.e., acoustic, passionate, and lyrically appealing. The track incorporates a collage of percussionist rhythms that flow right into successive sections of the entire disc. "Part One" clocks-in at just over 26 minutes. The sheer length of the track could easily classify it as a movement, indicative of Metheny's penchant for stretching boundaries and willingness to venture into uncharted avenues. In this case, that perspective works very well, as Metheny tells several stories within this part of the overall album. While "Part Two" registers just over 20 minutes and "Part Three" just under 16, each component of the songs build a sense of anticipation for what's to come, which make for a sequential flow of unobtrusive storytelling, the consummate aural landscape.
Further, while The Way Up is signature Metheny, commendation is in order to Antonio Sanchez (drums), Cuong Vu (trumpet, voice), Richard Bona and David Samuels (percussion), and Gregoire Maret (harmonica). Metheny's long-time collaborator, Lyle Mays (acoustic piano, keyboards) and Steve Rodby (acoustic and electric bass, cello) remain staples of the band and, as expected, provide their usual foray of robust accoutrements.
For Metheny fans, The Way Up will be a welcome addition to their collections, particularly since group incorporates rhythms from past works, but also includes new interpretations of Metheny's signature sound on acoustic, electric, slide and synthesizer guitars. Analogously, The Way Up is a non-stop accumulation, with a fresh twist, of Metheny's classic albums. Make no mistake, however, The Way Up is not a perfunctory adaptation of past "hits." To the contrary, it's fresh, melodious, and aurally sweet, thanks in large part to the group's harmonic congruence and acute sense of phrasing/space throughout the movements. To the behest of some, Metheny has again successfully eluded classification, continuously striving for excellence while refusing to be pigeonholed into categorical reference. Undoubtedly, The Way Up will help secure the Pat Metheny Group's status as a cornerstone of music's most innovative, lyrically astute bands that defies descriptors.
Track Listing: Opening; Part One; Part Two; Part Three
Personnel: Pat Metheny- acoustic, electric, synthesizer, slide guitars; Lyle Mays- piano, keyboards; Steve Rodby- acoustic, electric bass, cello; Cuong Vu- trumpet, voice; Gregoire Maret- harmonica; Antonio Sanchez- drums; Richard Bona- percussion; David Samuels- percussion