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Mike Metheny: KC Potpourri

Jack Bowers By

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Trumpeter Mike Metheny is a homeboy, seldom straying far from his native Kansas City, which explains in part why he isn't as well-known here in the States or overseas as his celebrated brother, guitarist Pat. But make no mistake, Mike is a superb musician in his own right, and as he says, "some of the finest musicians I've ever known live right here in my hometown. Many of them appear on KC Potpourri, Metheny's fond salute to the city of his birth.

Ironically, he doesn't pick up the trumpet at all, instead playing flugelhorn on six of nine selections, muted cornet on "Are You Real? and "The Flintstones Theme, EVI (electronic valve instrument) on "Darn That Dream. That's one of four tracks showcasing the Soundtrek Big Band (apparently named for the studio where the album was recorded); the others are by smaller groups (quartet, quintet). Prominent in each of them are such KC stalwarts as pianists Paul Smith or Roger Wilder, guitarists Danny Embrey or Rod Fleeman, bassists Gerald Spaits or Bob Bowman, drummers Todd Strait or Tommy Ruskin. With talent like that on hand, Metheny is free to spread his wings and fly wherever his vision takes him.

The Soundtrek band opens with Roger Pemberton's perky arrangement of "The Flintstones, highlighting Mike's muted cornet, and follows with one of the loveliest jazz melodies written in recent years, brother Pat's "Always and Forever, arranged by Bob Curnow and featuring Mike on flugel, which is where he stays for the next three numbers, John Lewis' "Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West, Embrey's "Tell Me Now and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive. Then it's back to cornet for Benny Golson's groovy "Are You Real? The Soundtrek ensemble returns for a Latinized version of "Darn That Dream and Jack Peterson's fast-moving "Hey Man! before the soulful finale, "We'll Be Together Again, on which Mike's flugel is backed by Smith, Bowman and Strait.

Metheny, as noted, is an excellent player, and even though he takes the lion's share of the solos, one can hardly grouse about that. What is less than pleasing is the overall sound; the excessive use of reverb takes some getting used to. One assumes that was done on purpose, not accidentally. But it's not overwhelming, and certainly not intrusive enough to greatly lessen one's appreciation of an otherwise trim and respectable album.

Track Listing: The Flintstones Theme; Always and Forever; Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West; Tell Me Now; How Insensitive; Are You Real?; Darn That Dream; Hey Man!; We'll be Together Again (52:47).

Personnel: Mike Metheny: flugelhorn, cornet, EVI; Paul Smith: piano, keyboards, synthesizer; Roger Wilder: piano; Danny Embrey, Rod Fleeman: guitar; Bob Bowman, Gerald Spaits: bass; Tommy Ruskin, Todd Strait: drums.The Soundtrek Big Band: Steve Molloy, Bob Harvey, Jay Sollenberger, Barry Springer: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kim Park, Todd Wilkinson: alto saxophone, flute; Hal Melia: tenor saxophone, flute; Doug Talley: tenor saxophone; Kerry Strayer: baritone saxophone; Steve Dekker, Jim Cann, Phil Thomas: trombone; Rich Coble: bass trombone; Joe Cartwright: piano.

Title: KC Potpourri | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: 3 Valve Music


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