The Metheny Method

One of jazz's most consistent stars keeps the hits coming on the Pat Metheny Group's Imaginary Day.

February 18, 1998 by Richard Martin for the Willamette Week


Pat Metheny unlocked some secret on how to achieve a lucrative yet respectful career in contemporary jazz. His peers create either slicked-up smooth stuff and make a killing or labor for years in smoky clubs and record albums that don't sell too well outside the 30-block radius of New York's East Village. But the affable and distinguished Metheny has the best of both worlds. The guitarist can slum it with obscure cult artists or craft intricate modern jazz records with longtime companions such as keyboardist Lyle Mays, drummer Paul Wertico and bassist Steve Rodby as the Pat Metheny Group.

On PMG's 12th album, Imaginary Day (Warner Bros.), the band introduces an Oriental sensibility to its distinctive soundscape compositions. Never one to express a matrimonial loyalty to his guitar, Metheny jams on a specially designed fretless classical, a 42-string pikasso guitar, an acoustic sitar guitar and other devices, decorating his songs with rich textures and otherworldly sounds.

Before leaving for yet another tour, the 43-year-old guitarist spoke with WW from his New York City apartment.

WW: How can the Pat Metheny Group sell hundreds of thousands of albums with each new release when jazz's popularity continues to wane?

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Originally published: Willamette Week - February 18, 1998


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