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Ian, nice review. The PMG is not finished. Pat has confirmed a new album is being released in 2013 with a tour to follow in 2014.
Hi CJ,Thanks for your comment and the good news. I was hoping PMG would prove me wrong! It'll be very interesting to see where the band is musically in 2013. All the bestIan
Here in France, the new Metheny Unity Band cd is promoted (not that it needs promotion) as a kind of unusual collaboration between Metheny and a sax player - his first since 80/81. They ask the question "Why doesn't Metheny play more often with sax players?"On my I-pod at the moment I do not even have one metheny recording that isn't a "FULL METHENY SAX Collaboration":Metheny/Ornette Coleman(Song X)Roy Haynes (Te Vou!)Joshua Redman (Wish)David Liebman (Water)Gary Thomas (Till We Have Faces)Kenny Garrett (Pursuance)...and yes, those Brecker albums:Michael Brecker (MB)Michael Brecker (Tales from the Hudson)Michael Brecker (Time is the Essence)Michael Brecker (The Nearness of You)Michael Brecker (Pilgrimage)Tony Williams (Wilderness)There may be more I'm sure. I'm now hoping Mr Metheny collaborate with a trombone, tuba, bassoon, or a french horn.Happy Listenings. Best, Noddy.
I think Mr Metheny should do the honorable gesture of calling the PMG "The Lyle Mays Band". Not that Mr Metheny does not have his considerable input in the PMG but I just think it would be honorable considering Lyle Mays' equal input, commitment, comparative famelessness and a bizarre confusing solo career. (though I have enjoyed excerpts from all of his albums)Noddy Zekrya.
Hi Noddy,Thanks for your interesting comments. I think the promotion drive, like my review, emphasizes that this is the first Metheny record as leader in many years where he employs a sax player. I would also like to see Metheny use other instruments in his projects. Tuba? Why not? I'd love to see Metheny slug it out with Chris Lo from Norwegian trio PELbO.Your point about Lyle Mayes is well made. You have to feel sorry for the guy, who is left on the sidelines during the long (and increasingly longer) pauses between PMG activity.What do you think of the Unity Band recording, by the way?
After what Pat said about Kenny G on a blog I find myself in the situation (I am a rebel))To act , Since Pat will be here in Arzina in Sept. Then he would take my challenge to duel with me on guitars, But knowing Pat he won't. He downgraded Kenny G and Pat will always be foolish for talking about other Artist
Eddie,Why would Pat, in the middle of a busy tour where he is going from one place to the next with little time beyond playing, take the time for a "guitar duel" with anyone? At this point in his career he has little to prove, and while his attack on Kenny G may not have been in the best taste, that was quite a few years ago...and he speaks, far, far more often, tremendously highly of the musicians he encounters. So, one mistake and you are ready to go mano-a-mano? Surely, Eddie, you have made mistakes in your life? :)Besides, what would it prove? If you are challenging him to a duel, then it would seem that you are trying to prove you are better than he is. How, exactly, do you judge who is a better guitarist than another? Speed? Harmonic sophistication? Time? Ability to leap tall buildings with a single bend? :)Best!John
Hi Eddie,I thought you might be interested to read "Jazz Icons: Heroes, Myths and the Jazz Tradition" by Tony Whyton. He has an interesting take on the old Metheny/Kenny G business. I think it might appeal to you. It's also one of the most insightful and thought-provoking books written about jazz that I've ever come across. It's published by Cambridge University Press. Amazon have it. Highly recommended.All the bestIan
Noddy, I'd not consider Lyle Mays overlooked or under-done. Lyle has, in interview, been very clear that his choices have been his choices. In PMG's early days, they would literally tour 300 days a year (mostly traveling in a van - this is the late '70s and into the 80s, though the touring grew as their gear did :)). When the group had two months off, Pat did projects like Rejoicing, with Haden and Higgins. Lyle did his own projects, but ultimately had to decide whether he wanted to devote the kind of time necessary to put his own projects on the scale of PMG, or be happy as part of PMG and use the other time to work on other things (like architecture, a big passion for him).Lyle's lack of a regular, visible solo career is by his own design. Sure, he could put together a piano trio like Fictionary and hit the road....but after working in the advanced production context of PMG, it's clearly not what he wants to do. But he has been a regular shower in Reader and Critics polls in Downbeat, for example, (though not recently, but he's been pretty out of sight since TWU.While I'd not say his contribution to PMG is equal to Metheny's (for one, he doesn't co-write everything, but rarely are tunes written solely by him featured on PMG records - with a couple of exceptions, including on Letter From Home) - maybe 40%. At the end of the day PMG is Pat Metheny - his primary vision, his responsibility. But Lyle is certainly the closest thing to an equal partner, and he gets plenty of profile when PMG records and tours - and if they're coming back next year, he'll be back in the spotlight, no doubt about it.
Hello Ian, (writer of original article)Excuse my late response and ooooooops, I had almost forgotten that this page was indeed about the "Unity Band" album!I must admit that when I read your review I had not actually heard the album. (Though virtually whilst reading your greatly written article!).Back in the Spring of 2011 I had a little chat here in Paris with Chris Potter (Underground Band) who gave me a vague clue that he and Metheny were gonna do something together. In anticipation of this possible recording I gathered the above mentioned list of Metheny Sax recordings. There was so much great music to take in again that it delayed the rush for me to buy the new one - unusual for me!!Finally I got to hear it and am loving it. Another fine record from a true master. All the fine ingredients are present including the new twists, subtle surprises and the further pushing of territory. I paid a lot of attention to bassist Ben Williams whom I was least familiar with apart from his work with saxophonist Markus Strickland. I found him to be youthful, yet prestigious and solid. Antonio Sanchez defines the band's sound (as drummers usually do) making the album to my ears an extension of the "Day Trip" band.Chris Potter's bass clarinet very welcome. Above all, I get a very very big thrill when Mr Metheny solos. I really love hundreds of great guitarists but Mr Metheny is amongst the handful that really really does the bepop jazz thing so very well. I'd enthusiastically buy a good few more albums from this Unity Band but equally look forward to....well, actually in fact, no, I fully trust Mr Metheny for keeping us enthused. (Hey Ian, your idea for Metheny to "slug it out with Chris Lo from Norwegian trio PELbO" was indeed quite funny but I ended up taking it seriously!!)For those who love Mr Metheny's soloing, I'd equally recommend the list I put up earlier of his other sax collaborations on other people's albums. To my ears Mr Metheny sounds slightly more natural on other people's recordings. As if he himself is freed from his own concepts for musical reinvention which was felt even in "zero tolerance for silence". This is not a critiscism as I love it all. So, in a nutshell, The Unity Band - a great album, sparse melodies, amazing musicianship as expected, easy but rewarding to listen to, demands repeated listenings. I also like the way the two large photos on the inside are of the rhythm section. Would buy more of this band especially if they added a flute, flugelhorn + trombone for "added decorative arrangements" - (Like what Scofield did with "Quiet" + "This Meets That" or Herbie with "Speak like a Child") - Whatever.......!!!!!Regards
Hi John,What Lyle Mays clearly wants to do is not clear to me but I wish him health and fulfilment.He is a big talent who could at least sit in on some more sessions as a sideman once in a while to keep the playing alive and his creativity recorded.His contribution to Steve Swallow's ECM cd (Home) had made a big impression on me . Pity we can't hear more.Though I understand that Brad Mehldau is truly an enormous talent, I could never understand why Mr Metheny could not have taken that direction with Lyle.If Lyle's passion for architecture, art and M.C. Escher forever increases he may lose his job to Gil Goldstein whom I believe he replaced in the forming stages of the PMG !!!!, no? And that Gil was very upset? Whatever......!!We'll wait and see.....but I must admit that "The Way Up" is the Metheny recording I least listen to despite being a fan of all the musicians involved. Could it be that it's ahead of its time? I had no problems when I heard "On the Corner" as a 9 year old in 1972 ! Ooops, off on a tangent again. Gotta go John. Have just recently become a Dad ! Better late than never ! Oh incidently, Mr Metheny and I have one thing in common. We both have French Wives of North African origin !! Ooooops, gotta go - real tangent there !!!!Blessings
Hi Noddy,If you check out the We Live Here Live DVD, Mays speaks to the issue of a solo career briefly (plus it's a great concert DVD!).I agree with you that he is a singular talent, but I do get the sense that the choice to be less visible is his, and not anyone else's. Home is, however a wonderful disc; his contribution to Eberhard Weber's Later That Evening is also wonderful, if you've not heard it.Congrats on becoming a Dad, and keep on visiting AAJ!Best!John
Yes John, I'll check that We Live Here Live DVD when I get the opportunity (I liked the album). But I do take your word for it! Moreover, I understand there are many valid reasons in making the choice not to fully "go for it" musically. Later That Evening Bill Frisell leapt over a building with a single bend.Cheers!Noddy
Great review... Caught Unity Bnd last night at the Town Hall in NYC. Awesome! I've been watching Pat live since 1981 and his sound still brings goose bumps and, yes, tears of joy! While I'm a bigger fan of the PMG material, this straight ahead stuff is equally inspirational. He brought The Town Hall down last night, played three encores and took an additional curtain call wit the crowd still wanting more! Can't wait for till the new album next year and a tour in 2014!!!
Ian,Fantastic review and also it is very well written!
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