Pat Metheny Trio + 1
Hill Auditorium (University of Michigan)
October 8, 2005
Not letting any grass grow under his feet, Pat Metheny wasted no time after wrapping up a tour in support of the group album The Way Up before hitting the road again with his trio. First getting together with bassist Christian McBride and regular drummer Antonio Sanchez in 2003, Metheny has reunited with these master musicians in addition to saxophonist David Sanchez for a 44-show sojourn of which this show in Ann Arbor marked about the half way point of the tour.
Of course with Metheny being the prolific composer that he is, the challenge in any of his live performances comes with selecting the material. While there were similar tune choices in comparison with his routine from the 2003 tour, the mix did include new material and some numbers that might not have been attempted had David Sanchez not been part of the ensemble. As is the norm for most of his shows, Pat took the stage for a brief solo set to start things off, utilizing baritone guitar and the distinctive 42-string Pikaso. "Last Train Home and "One For the Boys brought forth strong character traits, such as Metheny's touching ballad work and his affinity for the folk music tradition. The Pikaso feature found him moving beyond mere effects to offer a more biting sound that included rhythmic punctuations.
Bringing Sanchez and McBride on stage, the trio broke into a seductive "So May It Secretly Begin, followed by "James and "Lone Jack, three numbers from the Metheny Group repertoire that made the transition well to this smaller ensemble. On the latter named tune, Sanchez launched into a pyrotechnical solo that silenced the house, with jaws dropping in awe of the drummer's enviable skills. As he often does, Sanchez punctuates his solos with cowbell beats that he plays via a foot pedal, made all the more amazing by the fact that his other three limbs are independently engaged in a myriad of complex rhythms.
About half way through the evening, David Sanchez joined Pat on stage and the pair made a most simpatico duo for a beautiful performance of Edu Lobo's "Pra Dizer Adeus. Sanchez spoke in hushed tones ala Getz, managing to quote a line or two from "The Peacocks. By contrast, Sanchez offered a more boisterous side of his personality when called on to perform two pieces from Song X, the fabled collaboration between Metheny and Ornette Coleman. Both "Police People and "The Good Life found the quartet engaged in perfect interaction, making the addition of the saxophonist an inspired choice. Later commenting on the pieces, Pat recalled performing with Coleman at Hill during a tour in support of Song X and the fact that at the end of the evening there were only "about 16 people left in the house.
Offering a word or two on the present challenges facing renowned tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, Metheny then broke into a performance of "Time Line, a groove number from Brecker's Time Is Of the Essence disc. With a standing ovation and rousing cheers, the foursome returned for an encore that featured McBride on electric bass. Over the course of two and a half hours, Metheny and crew would cover a good deal of territory and David Sanchez's lock-up with the trio just seemed to take things to even higher heights. Metheny's virtuosity and generosity in terms of his performances always make for a good time, whether it's the first time you've seen him or the 21st time.
C. Andrew Hovan