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Jazz - Released February 3, 2014 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - Hi-Res Audio
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Jazz - Released June 8, 2012 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS
On Unity Band, Pat Metheny reveals that he can look in two directions at once. The group he's assembled here is an all-star ensemble. Drummer Antonio Sanchez has been with him for a decade, while double bassist Ben Williams makes his first appearance with the guitarist, as does tenor saxophonist Chris Potter (whose soprano and bass clarinet playing are on display, too). Metheny makes full use of this ensemble's possibilities. That said, he looks back through his catalog and composes for this band from some of the information gleaned there. One can recall the swirling melodic euphoria of the Pat Metheny Group in the guitar and guitar-synth interplay in "Roofdogs." On the ingenious "Come and See," Metheny's many-stringed Picasso guitar meets Potter's bass clarinet to create a tonal inquiry before Williams and Sanchez establish a deep blue groove. When Potter adds his tenor and Metheny his electric, we get a Latinized swinging pulse that is ever so slightly reminiscent of the 80/81 band with Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman (this isn't the only place that happens here). Fans of Metheny's more abundantly lyrical side will appreciate the breezy sway of "Leaving Town," though its melody -- twinned by his guitar and Potter -- is full of compelling tight turns, before the rhythm section evokes a deep, swinging blues and the guitarist gets refreshingly funky in his solo. On "Signals" Metheny uses his Orchestrion and guitar with live loops; the band employs live loops throughout the intro on top. Potter's tenor solo is emotive, grainy, and reaching, while the atmosphere recalls -- only generally -- the album the guitarist cut with Steve Reich. The nocturnal, smoky "Then and Now" has a torch ballad quality due to Potter's utterly songlike solo. Set closer "Breakdealer" begins at the boiling point and gets hotter. The title hints at what Sanchez does throughout the tune while pushing forward, but Williams not only keeps up, he adds propulsive shades of his own and rocks the arpeggiated changes fluidly. Metheny and Potter are free to sprint and they do; both dazzle with their lyric invention and knotty, imaginative, nearly boppish solos. The two front-line players are surely at their best in one another's company on the date; you expect them to be. Yet it's the rhythm section that astonishes thoroughly. Their interplay is not only intuitive, it's informative; it points to new corners for Metheny and Potter to explore. Given the guitarist's more compositional solo experiments of the last few years -- all of which have been very satisfying -- Unity Band is a return to what he does best: composing for, and playing with, a band of top-shelf players. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released March 1, 1976 | ECM

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Pat Metheny's debut studio album is a good one, a trio date that finds him already laying down the distinctively cottony, slightly withdrawn tone and asymmetrical phrasing that would serve him well through most of the swerves in direction ahead. His original material, all of it lovely, bears the bracing air of his Midwestern upbringing, with titles like "Missouri Uncompromised," "Midwestern Nights Dream," and "Omaha Celebration." There is also a sole harbinger of radical matters way down the road with the inclusion of a loose-jointed treatment of Ornette Coleman's "Round Trip/Broadway Blues," proving that Song X did not come from totally out of the blue. Besides being Metheny's debut, this LP also features one of the earliest recordings of Jaco Pastorius, a fully formed, well-matched contrapuntal force on electric bass, though content to leave the spotlight mostly to Metheny. Bob Moses, who like Metheny played in the Gary Burton Quintet at the time, is the drummer, and he can mix it up, too. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released May 6, 2016 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
In 2012, guitarist Pat Metheny won a Grammy for his album Unity Band. That album featured his then newly formed group featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Antonio Sanchez. A year later, the Unity Group returned with Kin , which found Metheny expanding the ensemble to include multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. Arriving in 2016, The Unity Sessions showcases that expanded version of the Unity Group live in a gorgeously produced one-off performance at New York's Black Box Theatre on the heels of their 2014 tour. Hoping to capture the synergy and collective dynamic forged over the yearlong tour, Metheny had the Unity Group set up at the Black Box just as they would for a live show. He then had the concert recorded and filmed, resulting in a unique document that is both studio recording and live performance. Here, we get cuts off both Unity Band and Kin , as well as songs culled from Metheny's lengthy career. These run the gamut from acoustic classical pieces ("Adagia") to moody, groove-oriented modal fusion cuts ("Roofdogs") to atmospheric world music-inflected numbers ("Come and See") and more. Elsewhere, the ensemble summons a palpable warmth on the ruminative ballad "This Belongs to You," combines John Coltrane-esque spirituality and African rhythms on "On Day One," and dives headlong into the expansive flamenco-steeped anthem "Rise Up." They even make room for a sprightly duo version of the jazz standard "Cherokee," featuring lively interplay between Metheny and Potter. Ultimately, while Metheny is the undisputed leader here, it's the thoughtful interplay of all the Unity Group's members that makes these sessions so involving. ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz - Released May 13, 1985 | ECM

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
Pat Metheny takes a vacation from his Group and performs advanced material with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins. In addition to Horace Silver's "Lonely Woman," Haden's "Blues for Pat," and three Ornette Coleman tunes, the guitarist plays three of his originals here, including "The Calling," a lengthy exploration of sounds with his guitar synthesizer. Throughout this excellent set, Metheny and his sidemen engage in close communication and create memorable and unpredictable music. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released May 20, 2013 | Nonesuch

Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
On his own recordings, Pat Metheny has always pushed his artistic envelope. Very occasionally when moving to the outside, it's been to the chagrin of some fans. It happened with Ornette Coleman on the brilliant Song X in 1985; next was on the screaming guitar effort Zero Tolerance for Silence in 1994, and finally on his collaboration with Derek Bailey on The Sign of 4 in 1997. But while his collaboration with another true American original, the prolific composer John Zorn, is outside work for Metheny, it may not alienate longtime fans due to its relative accessibility. The Book of Angels is the composer's second book of compositions based on ancient, often mystical Jewish music; it contains over 300 pieces. These works have set melodies but leave plenty of room for other musicians to interpret and add to them. Other than drums -- played by Antonio Sanchez -- Metheny performs everything: guitars, orchestrion, piano, bass, bandoneon, bells, even flügelhorn. He takes Zorn's mysterious compositions and completely recontextualizes them while remaining true to them. Metheny introduces new musical ideas, myriad textural flights, and rhythmic invention to these works with a wide colorist's palette. "Mastema," with its hypnotic theme, is adorned by rock drumming from Sanchez, who handles the 11/8 signature with ease, while Metheny layers numerous countrapuntal guitars, backmasked, wailing solos, and shifting orchestrion pulses to dynamic result. Likewise, the contemplative acoustic guitars of "Albim" give way to a shimmering swing that adds tinges of tango and Brazilian music -- it wouldn't have been out of place on one of his own albums. The heart of "Tharsis" is a klezmer melody. Acoustic guitars, percussion, guitar synth, and piano display Metheny's signature euphoric interiority and balance with the inherent lyricism in Zorn's tune even as Sanchez forcefully pushes at the tempo. "Sariel" uses tiples, baritone, and high-stringed guitars to shape the melody. It's like a choir of ouds. As the piece develops, chord structures advance the sketch, and eventually Sanchez enters, adding a rock thrust. Metheny piles on electric guitars and basses to go on an extended workout, soaring with harmonic ideas and textural elements that resemble those from Italian film scores of the 1970s and '80s. No matter how unfettered his imagination runs on these pieces, neither he nor Zorn disappear. The set's closer, "Hurmiz," may raise a few eyebrows. Metheny plays piano in a duet with Sanchez that suggests free jazz, though the attention to space, form, and lyricism is inherent. Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20 is a special album in both men's catalogs. (It's being released simultaneously on both Nonesuch and Tzadik.) These compositions offer Metheny something that he's seldom been able to take advantage of. While he's regularly performed the works of other composers, he has seldom had the opportunity to so thoroughly orchestrate and arrange them. Ironically, this collaboration has resulted in giving him the freedom to explore his artistic expression as an individual, at a deeper level. ~ Thom Jurek
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Bebop - Released April 24, 2009 | Nonesuch

Pat Metheny by himself with an acoustic guitar -- for longtime fans it might not get any better. Always interested in blending jazz with folk and pop, the guitarist does just that, focusing heavily on the folk end of things on One Quiet Night. Featuring a nice afterglow interpretation of Norah Jones' hit "Don't Know Why" and an unexpected reinterpretation of "Ferry Cross the Mersey" which turns the Gerry & the Pacemakers classic into a poignant lament, the album also showcases Metheny as a melodic pop composer. "Song for the Boys" sounds surprisingly like an instrumental take on early-'80s British pop à la the Smiths, while "Last Train Home" brilliantly mixes Metheny's knack for taking simple chord progressions and beautifully tweaking them with odd harmonies. Perhaps a bit light for some straight-ahead jazz fans, listeners interested in thoughtful, folky, jazz-inflected ballads will find this rapturous. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released October 3, 2008 | Nonesuch

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Bebop - Released June 14, 2011 | Nonesuch

Booklet
The jazz tradition has long taken pop songs, reimagined and reinvented them harmonically and rhythmically and re-presented them as vehicles for improvisation. Pat Metheny has done something different on What's It All About, his second Nashville-tuned baritone acoustic guitar record (with a handful of other acoustic instruments and no overdubs, but there are edits). Here he performs ten pop songs that have long been part of his personal arcana and recorded them so that we might hear what's inside these songs -- as songs. Recorded on a single day in February of 2011, Metheny interprets well-known songs by Paul Simon, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Lennon & McCartney, Henry Mancini, the Ventures, Burt Bacharach, Paul Williams, Terry Kirkman, Carly Simon, Thom Bell, and others across the pop spectrum. His approach is deliberate; his interest is in the subtlety of melody; its nuance, and mystery; he finds the places he hears inside the music before these songs even begin, or just after they end, through a unique series of tunings he employs between A-flat and C. "The Sound of Silence" opens the set by suggesting the tones of a Japanese koto in its intro (courtesy of his 42-string Pikasso guitar). When the melody commences, its languorous richness and rhythmic balance are so perfect, we hear it not only as the pop song we remember by Simon & Garfunkel, but as a lyric invention that is almost magical in its possibility. The version of Kirkman's "Cherish" (a big hit by the Association), is equally profound. He finds the space where the human voice inserts itself in the harmonic structure and opens it with his guitar. There is slightly more improvisation in "Alfie," but it's open, spacious, and full of hinted-at dimensions in the crafting of the song's parameters. "Girl from Ipanema," played as a skeletal, impressionistic ballad, uncovers suggestions of darker melodies inside. He pulls out both the implied elegance in "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," and the quietly majestic variety of it in "Rainy Days and Mondays." "Betcha by Golly, Wow" stands as a revelation: its inventive harmonics and syncopations are inherent in the tune's basic architecture. In closer "And I Love Her" are the direct implications of bossa that Lennon and McCartney had no doubt taken note of at the time. Ultimately, What's It All About is an intimate work revealing Metheny's investigation of composition itself. The notion of song is inherent in everything he does, and he reveals that inspiration in spades here. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released September 23, 2007 | Nonesuch

Secret Story is among the more provocative recordings in Pat Metheny's oeuvre. Combining the relaxed groove of the early Pat Metheny Group recordings, it is full of odd sounds, exotic instrumentation, and the participation of members of the London Orchestra conducted by Jeremy Lubbock. Along with regular group members -- bassist Steve Rodby, drummer Paul Wertico, percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, pianist-keyboardist Lyle Mays -- numerous guests adorn these tracks as well: bassists Charlie Haden and Will Lee, percussionist Armando Marcal, vocalist Mark Ledford, jazz harmonica legend Toots Thielmans, Gil Goldstein, and Pat's brother Mike Metheny. But what's most notable is that none of these players are constants, as this is most certainly a Metheny solo effort: Secret Story is his own song, so to speak. His acoustic and electric guitars are augmented by synthesizers and samplers, and no matter how lush these proceedings get, they are never overwhelmed by production. Metheny is one of the few jazz musicians working today who completely understands what technology is used for, and his production never overwhelms his compositions. The entire disc comes off as a sort of interior travelogue, a heart's remembrance, a memento mori; it is one of the most emotionally expressive recordings in his career. "Above the Treetops," the album's opener, which features Haden and the two percussionists, is so utterly exotic and poetic it feels like the opening number in a soundtrack (and perhaps that's what it is); it's based on a Cambodian hymn titled "Buong Buong." The sound of a children's choir singing the hymn is sampled into the synth lines that delicately open the track. Percussion slips in and out sparingly, Haden's bass offers a heavily reverbed backbone for the structure of the tune, and Metheny's acoustic guitar and synthesizers cover the rest. It is a reflective and meditative moment that contains a kind of dignified majesty that builds up to his beautiful nylon string solo, the bluesy and grooving "Cathedral in a Suitcase." "Cathedral in a Suitcase" showcases a slight return to Metheny's employ by Danny Gottlieb with a series of beautiful cymbal rolls, and drummer Steve Ferone and Marcal on percussion. But it's Metheny with all of his keyboards and the orchestra that truly hold the day, providing a lush, cascading sequence of changes that offer the entire notion of majesty and travel. There is a sense of wonder and awe with all the euphoric drama that is so inherent in his compositions. One is taken from reflection to moving through a doorway and out into the world, watching it as it passes by through a windshield before the individual dissolves into its identity, only to emerge once more to be transformed. The pulse of the keyboards is enhanced by the utter grandeur of the strings. The ten-minute "Finding and Believing" is almost a tone poem that begins with a funky Latin rhythm. The funky sound of synths, electric sitar, and other strings is balanced by that popping bassline played by Lee. This is a suite, full of texture, dimension, and drama that becomes something wholly other from beginning to end as the orchestra adds expressionistic and elegant dissonance to the rhythm driven proceeding. There are simpler moments, too, however, such as the guitar piece "Sunlight," with Mays on piano, and Lee and Rodby on electric and acoustic basses. Its easy groove is a resting place in this ambitious work but is so melodically sophisticated, it is another adventure, albeit a simpler one. Gil Evans could have scored the meld of strings and nylon string guitar on "Always and Forever." "See the World" is a more "traditional" Metheny guitar jazz number, full of lithe syncopation, textural and rhythmic changes, and that striated sense of melody of his that is complex but hummable. The horns and strings add to its sense of grandeur and grace, but it continues to reach ever higher for something seemingly unattainable. Ryan Kisor's trumpet and John Clark's French Horn are also in attendance with Mike Metheny. "Antonia" is so lovely and heart-rending as to be nearly unbearable in its beauty, and Metheny's electric guitar solo is among the most expressive in his recorded career. The groove goes deep and wide, yet it hovers and floats. The strings pulse around it, percussion underscores it, and the melodic frame of the track is open and amazingly delicate. "The Truth Will Always Be" is another suite, a reflective one that goes to the core of what this record is about: it is about love discovered, grasped onto, and lost. It is every bit as regal and poetic as Debussy without the notion of classicism. Despite the lush production in these tunes, on this one it is revealed that these elements are here simply to protect the protagonist from emotions that are so profound and unsettling and tender as to be nearly unbearable. Strings slip in and around Metheny's guitar. He lets it bite in just the right places, and more than this, he lets his single lines sing. The strings enter forebodingly into the last cut, "Not to Be Forgotten (Our Final Hour)," but they give way to something simply melancholy that contains all the beauty and heartbreak of the world, the entire recording of a relationship in just over two minutes. The silence at the end of Secret Story is pregnant, almost breathtaking. At the end of 76 minutes the listener cannot help but be absorbed in reminiscences both pleasant and painful, and becomes an empathetic, and perhaps even a sympathetic witness to and participant in Metheny's magical sound world. [Secret Story was reissued with a bonus disc in 2007.] ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released February 6, 2006 | Nonesuch

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Jazz - Released February 6, 2006 | Nonesuch

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Jazz - Released June 4, 1984 | ECM

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Jazz - Released March 5, 2007 | Nonesuch

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Jazz - Released November 11, 1985 | ECM

Pat Metheny emerges on his second album, Watercolors, as an ECM impressionist, generally conforming to the label's overall sound while still asserting his own personality. As the title suggests, there are several mood pieces here that are suspended in the air without rhythmic underpinning, a harbinger for the new age invasion still in the future. Metheny's softly focused, asymmetrical guitar style, with echoes of apparent influences as disparate as Jim Hall, George Benson, Jerry Garcia, and various country guitarists, is quite distinctive even at this early juncture. Metheny's long-running partnership with keyboardist Lyle Mays also begins here, with Mays mostly on acoustic piano but also providing a few mild synthesizer washes. Danny Gottlieb is on drums, and ECM regular Eberhard Weber handles the bass. This is essentially the first album by the Pat Metheny Group per se, although the band had yet to find its direction in this somewhat diffuse showing. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released November 5, 1999 | Warner Jazz

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Bebop - Released June 2, 2009 | Nonesuch

This 2009 deluxe package brings together LP and CD versions of the Pat Metheny Trio's well-received 2008 DAY TRIP along with its live-in-Japan prequel EP, TOKYO DAY TRIP. Accompanied by Christian McBride on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums, DAY TRIP was recorded in just one day in 2005 and is widely regarded as one of Metheny's finest recordings. There are no unusual fusion experiments here and no superstar turns, just an utterly fluent contemporary guitar trio playing in a thoroughly modern idiom. A enduring highlight is the plaintive acoustic ballad, "Is This America?," written in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina. As for the Tokyo date, it was actually recorded before the studio session but released at the same time as DAY TRIP in early 2008. Ironically, the live recording sounds larger and more produced than its studio cousin. Likewise, there is no repetition of material; these Tokyo compositions are painted in broader strokes and have a certain rock feeling to them, reminiscent of up-and-coming avant-guitarist Mary Halvorson's striking DRAGON"S HEAD. The availability in one place of both these live and studio dates, and in their respective formats, is a real treasure trove for contemporary jazz and Pat Metheny fans alike.
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Jazz - Released September 8, 2006 | Nonesuch

The collaboration between Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau is something that must have been written in the stars. Fans of both men have wondered if it would ever take place, and the end result on the Nonesuch release of Metheny Mehldau is the confirmation that it was destined. Hyperbole? Put it on and listen before you offer that remark seriously. Of the ten cuts here, eight are duets; the other two feature Mehldau's rhythm section, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. Metheny wrote seven of these tunes, and Mehldau wrote the other three. Each man's compositional style is evident from the word go. There's the luxurious counterpoint that extends form the haunting melody of "Unrequited." Further, there is the natural extension of rhythm and swing on "Ahmid-6." But the real accomplishment here is the ease with which these men play such sophisticated and engaging music that is, perhaps on paper, difficult. But its expansive sense of lyricism and yes, rhythmic interplay, is continually surprising; there is no competition in these tunes, they flow, one into the other with a language being made on the spot. On the quartet tunes, such as Metheny's "Ring of Life," the influence of postmodern drum'n'bass -- à la electronica -- is heard in the tough breakbeats played by Ballard and the counter-rhythmic invention of both Mehldau and Grenadier. It is Metheny's melodic voice, his continually approaching the euphoric, that holds it all together and makes something utterly moving out of it. The gentle swing of "Say the Brother's Name" (also by Metheny) takes Mehldau's sense of the phrase and expansive left-hand technique as it finds harmonic invention in the middle register as the key to unlocking the track's mystery. Mehldau's typically understated solo splits the seam and allows the genuine intensity of the cut to come through. Rhythmically there are breaks here too, but not as pronounced or as forceful as on the earlier selection. Indeed, when all is said and done, the listener is left wanting -- more that it. One wishes that a double album would have been made, one with the duet -- so full of startling moments it's impossible to list them all -- and quartet, whose genuine sense of extrapolative swing is not only inherent, but infectious. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released February 6, 2006 | Nonesuch - WBR

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Jazz - Released December 19, 2008 | ECM

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