City traffic noises briefly lead into an inviting, fast introduction. Such is the opening of the Pat Metheny Group's most recent release.
Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, the original Group's brain trust, have created a 68-minute suite that encapsulates a number of stylistic devices introduced throughout the history of their collaboration. Steve Rodby continues to lay the grounding with his acoustic and electric bass, as well as cello. Trumpeter Cuong Vu and drummer Antonio Sanchez continue where they left off after their debut with the group on its last release. The trumpeter also provides a vocal component without being as pronounced as on Speaking Of Now (Warner, 2002). Harmonica player Grégoire Maret is the newcomer on this recording.
On The Way Up, the Pat Metheny Group starts off on familiar terrain and elaborates musical ideas in different directions by leveraging the talent of the whole group. For example, on "Part One" a fast segment is followed by a release that sounds similar to a piece from Quartet (Geffen, 1996). Within the same part, one can even hear brief references to Steve Reich, reminding the listener of the composer's Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint (Nonesuch, 1990), recorded with the Kronos Quartet and Pat Metheny. True appreciation requires careful listening, perhaps a few times, in order to fully digest and process this whole piece.
The advantage of creating a suite like this is that it allows the musicians to explore their musical ideas without deviating from structure. In fact, this recording does not enter completely different terrain. Fans will not express the same surprise as when they first heard a Cambodian choir on Secret Story (Geffen, 1990). Nevertheless, one will enjoy a rich panoply of sounds and moods within the same extended piece.
Due to the ambitious endeavor of incorporating this whole musical kaleidoscope with Pat Metheny's signature, one sometimes wishes that a favorite snippet could have a more extended part in the suite.
"Part Three" ends as the Opening started, with a light background sound of traffic. For one brief moment, Maret's harmonica mimics the sound of an ambulance in a perfectly seamless way.
Pat Metheny: acoustic, electric, synth and slide guitars; Lyle Mays: acoustic piano, keyboards; Steve
Rodby: acoustic and electric bass, cello; Cuong Vu: trumpet, voice; Gregoire Maret: harmonica;
Antonio Sanchez: drums; Richard Bona: percussion, voice; David Samuels: percussion.
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