Pat Metheny's Unity Group is perfectly named because, in its quintet lineup even more so than the original quartet, the group's approach brings together every musical element the famed guitarist has pursued during the course of his career. Acoustic guitars of the solo projects, dense high-tech arrangements à la Pat Metheny Group, traditional jazz horns recalling 80/81 (ECM, 1980) and vigorous ensemble improvisation hearkening to his various trios all mix on Kin ()'s very first track, On Day One," and subsequently in varying proportions as the album progresses. The music of The Pat Metheny Unity Group isn't much ...read more
Nine years after the Pat Metheny Group crowned its mammoth The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005) tour before 100,000 people at the Montreal Jazz Festival, it seems increasingly unlikely that Metheny will reconvene his main vehicle, not now with a vibrant new group pushing him compositionally and slaying audiences. Or does it? In a 2012 interview with All About Jazz , drummer Antonio Sanchez--who has worked closely with Metheny for a dozen years--said of the PMG: everybody is craving another go around." It could yet happen, for the 40th anniversary just around the corner in 2017, for example. In ...read more
Pat Metheny Unity Group Paramount Theater Denver, CO March 7, 2014 The Group is back. Sort of. For virtually his entire career, Pat Metheny has bounced back and forth between the highly successful Pat Metheny Group and a wide array of projects under his own name. Ever since the Group's eponymous 1978 release, the personnel in the Pat Metheny Group constantly evolved. Besides Metheny, however, one player remained constant: keyboard player Lyle Mays; i.e.: no Mays, no PMG. The last Pat Metheny Group album was The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005). Mays and Metheny haven't recorded ...read more
Strangely enough, the release of Kin () may be the one that most polarizes longtime fans of guitarist Pat Metheny. There are those who feel that, beginning with 2005's last recording with his then-longstanding Pat Metheny Group, that he'd become too complex, too chops-heavy and too distanced from the accessible music of recordings like Travels (ECM, 1983) and Still Life (Talking) (Nonesuch, 1987). He further distanced himself from a number of his core constituents with Orchestrion (Nonesuch, 2010), and his superb but even more challenging collaboration with John Zorn on Tap, concurrently released on Nonesuch and Zorn's own Tzadik label. ...read more
Crown of the Continent Guitar FestivalBigfork, MontanaAugust 26-31, 2013Either I'm imaging things, or this festival has grown just a little in the four years since I was here last," Pat Metheny laughed as he squinted into the glare of a brace of theater lights. An SRO crowd of over 900 ecstatic fans crammed into a high-arching, rectangular tent fit for an emir's wedding hooted and clapped in response. The guitar icon's telling comments during his recent concert at the Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in tiny Bigfork, jny: Montana provided a quick way to gauge the ...read more
It has been said of Pat Metheny that if Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, and Charlie Christian had somehow all been involved in fathering a single child, that child would grow up to be pursuing her master's in developmental psychology at Stanford while working as an assistant manager at Border's. Where they sell Pat Metheny CD's. How ironic is that? Not ironic enough, according to Microsoft Word's irony check, which rated this paragraph as only 34.7% as ironic as it could have been and suggested that the child grow up to be Pat Metheny. I reminded Word that the definition of ...read more
Literary, anything and everything can and will happen in composer John Zorn's constantly evolving musical world. Within that world, surprise and exploration are an important ingredients, as much as the cross-styling or the plethora of approaches for the different kinds of collaborative compositions he has created for the players involved. This surprising crossed paths of Zorn and guitarist Pat Metheny, as one of the performers/interpreters of his Book of Angels series (a subset of Zorn's ongoing Masada saga), is a cause of wonderment of what's it all about," as in both artists' long and storied careers there were no prior ...read more
It's difficult to know what is most surprising about Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels | Vol. 20. It's the first collaboration between guitarist Pat Metheny and saxophonist/composer/Tzadik label head John Zorn, two musicians who, at least on the surface, couldn't be more different. Of course, those who look beyond Metheny's more listener-friendly Pat Metheny Group to recordings like the searing Zero Tolerance for Silence (Geffen, 1994), his particularly stellar collaboration with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, Song X (Geffen, 1985, reissued Nonesuch, 2005), or his explorations into the outer realms of improvisation with guitarist Derek Bailey on The Sign of 4 ...read more
With The Orchestrion Project (Eagle Eye Media, 2012), Pat Metheny provided a detailed visual look into the workings of the guitarist's complex, custom-built conglomeration of instruments--triggered by pneumatics, solenoids and computer programs--that took this orchestral successor to the player piano (the first known version being the panharmonicon, in 1805) not just into a new century, but a new millennium. An in-depth All About Jazz review of the DVD/Blu-Ray/3D Blu-Ray release, covered the history of the project and the music performed in what was, instead of an actual live performance from Metheny's 2010 world tour, a studio recording made in a ...read more
Pat Metheny The Orchestrion Project Eagle Eye Media 2012 When guitarist Pat Metheny released Orchestrion (Nonesuch) in 2010, it almost immediately became one of his most controversial recordings since Zero Tolerance for Silence (Warner Bros., 1992). Why, in a jazz world, where interaction with other musicians is so fundamental to its spirit, to its raison d'être, would one of the most important guitarists of his generation not only release an album that replaced live musicians with a complex, pneumatic and solenoid-driven beast of an instrument called an Orchestrion, but actually embark on a massive world ...read more
Pat Metheny Unity BandBotanic GardensDenver, COSeptember 7, 2012Pat Metheny is restless. And we're all the richer for it. Over a career that is now pushing 40 years, Metheny has been a constant innovator, not only in the development of musical styles, but new sounds as well, going so far as to invent new musical instruments to help him push, and sometimes explode, sonic boundaries. Now on tour with his Unity Band, Metheny showcased many of his discoveries and inventions at Denver's Botanic Gardens.The Unity Band marks the first time Metheny has had a ...read more
As the 1970s came to a close, guitarist Pat Metheny was riding high on a wave of well-received albums, from his self-named Group and Trio and as a contributor to works by vibraphonist Gary Burton, bassist Jaco Pastorius and others. In 1980, he went somewhere else entirely and recorded what has come to be regarded as a landmark album, 80/81 (ECM, 1980). Featuring Metheny, tenor saxophonists Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, this double-album of tracks, predominantly composed by the guitarist, signaled Metheny's arrival at a whole new plane, capable of truly leading some ...read more
Pat Metheny Unity BandLongwood GardensKennett Square, PennsylvaniaAugust 9, 2012Over the past few years Longwood Gardens, a horticultural conservancy located in Southeastern Pennsylvania, has hosted a wide variety of international musical talent. Situated in a wooded area of Kennett Square, the conservancy offers multiple performance venues in a beautiful, bucolic setting conveniently located near Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Three days before his 58th birthday (August 12, 2012), Pat Metheny brought his critically acclaimed Unity Band to the Gardens' Open Air Theater, offering a dynamic show that encapsulated everything the renowned guitarist has to offer, from ...read more
Pat Metheny Unity Band Nonesuch Records 2012 It may be premature to write about the Pat Metheny Group in the past tense, but it's been seven years now since The Way Up (Nonesuch Records, 2005) and its last world tour. A feeling is creeping in that the 68-minute opus may have been a magnificent closing statement and a poignant swansong for that important group. How, precisely, do you top that? The perpetually busy Missouri guitarist has since occupied himself with shorter compositional song form in more intimate settings, either solo, in trio or quartet settings. ...read more
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