Pat Metheny Trio+1 September 7, 2005 Jazz Alley Seattle, WA September 7-9, Jazz Alley hosted the first stop of Pat Metheny's current Trio+1 tour. Playing for the first time at Seattle's longest running jazz club (3rd internationally), Metheny performed six sold-out shows along with band members Christian McBride, Antonio Sanchez, and David Sanchez. I caught the second set of the first night of performances. SOLO The evening started with Metheny finger-picking solo guitar to his composition "Last Train Home. The buzz in the air that Metheny often brings with much anticipation from the audience quickly was transformed with the first few notes from the guitar. Wearing blue jeans and rolled up shirt-sleeves, also sporting his signature "big hair, this was a "come as you are affair and the music was first and foremost. Staying on acoustic guitar, "Song for the Boys was next, where spirited strumming sandwiched arpeggiated picking with style and ease. The third number featured a strange-looking instrument with three sets of strings. Each set of strings had its own unique sound. The center of the instrument had a set of strings that was much like a regular guitar, but on top of that was a less resonant quasi-Asian sounding set and below was another set that sounded more harp-like. I also heard a sound that was like voices, possibly via midi or from his traveling laptop sound person side-stage. Another person may have described it much differently, but nonetheless Metheny masterfully tied them all together into one cohesive aural experience.
Next, Metheny switched to electric guitar as bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez joined in, playing two tunes as a trio. Metheny stretched out considerably on the second tune "Question and Answer. Metheny's solo(s) contained many of the elements of his first recorded version of this song, but here years later he was sounding fresh as ever and taking it further. A set and a half into the tour, the trio was sounding very together on this number, as McBride took the last line of Metheny's guitar solo and re-worked it through his first solo chorus as a springboard for his own virtuosic statement. As Metheny took the melody on the way out, his guitar sound changed, increasing in volume, later making full use of the whammy bar. Jamming over the signature two-chord vamp at the end, the trio got into some great interplay as the song faded out w/ dramatic heavy reverb on the snare drum hits.
Saxophonist David Sanchez came on stage for "H & H, and stayed for the remainder of the show. As McBride laid down one of the best walking bass feels in the biz, saxophonist Sanchez blew several choruses. I was captured by his tone, and how even when he was "going for it, his sound was never abrasive or overpowering. Other tunes performed that evening included a Latin version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps, "The Red One, which was written by Metheny for fellow-guitarist John Scofield, and "#61, a tune the bandleader described as "so new I need the music. Also performed was the tune "Timeline, originally written by Metheny for drummer Elvin Jones, but on this evening was dedicated to the ailing saxophonist Michael Brecker. Summoned for an encore, McBride re-appeared on electric bass, while Metheny cranked up the distortion for a proper send-off.
As it was the first night of the tour, the show had a great energy throughout, but as might be expected, there were a few rough spots and a little more chart reading than usual. For me, the strength of Metheny's compositions and the virtuosity of the players tied it all together. I ran into local guitarist Conlin Roser at the show, who had been there for both sets. He remarked "I'd love to hear the [band] a few shows down the line, and hear how the whole group advances as an organism. Me too, and I hope Metheny's relentless tour schedule includes a stop here in Seattle next time out.
Thanks to Pat Dineen in Atlanta, Ga for his help and expertise in preparation for this review.