Pat Metheny - A Man And Machine In Perfect Harmony...

September 2000 by Mike Flynn for audiostreet


The mercurial Metheny is one of the truly consistent and pivotal figures in modern music. As a recording artist he has ventured in to so many stylistic areas even his most prolific peers have struggled to keep up. He also frustrates his critics with this suppleness; Metheny sees nothing wrong with switching styles as often as he changes his guitar on stage. His latest forays have the feel of an Olympic decathlete as he long jumps and pole vaults through or over any hoop or hurdle he chooses. From the international smash that was 'Imaginary Day' his groups last full-length recording to last years beautifully orchestrated soundtrack 'A Map Of The World' to this years back to basics trio album 'Trio 99—>00' with the prodigious talents of bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Bill Stewart, Metheny has proved himself a true renaissance man.

He's also produced fellow Group member, Lyle Mays' latest solo release and collaborated with Michael Brecker on his album from last year 'Time Is Of the Essence'. Does the man ever sleep? However times are changing not only in the music scene as a whole but also in Metheny's never ending voyage of self-discovery. Once a young upstart himself debuting in Gary Burton's band in the early 1970s Metheny has since pursued his own personal vision of music collaborating with some incongruous combinations of players from the grandparents of pop David Bowie and Joni Mitchell to the freakiest of free jazzers Ornette Coleman and Derek Bailey. Pat has always trodden his own, sometimes critically unpopular, path but he has also built a huge global audience who find that 'other' something in his music that so many other artist's lack. I met Pat the morning after a tumultuous performance with his special quartet featuring the talents of Hammond organ genius Larry Goldings, Stewart once again on drums and the gargantuan talents of Michael Brecker on saxophone.

Despite his 20 plus years as a pivotal figure in instrumental music, and as one of the premier guitarists of all time, Metheny's nature to question and probe the status quo for something deeper and more meaningful remains undiminished. Returning from a morning jog, dressed in shorts, sunglasses, and his trademark wild hair bundled in to a black beanie, Metheny's commitment to his fitness regime is maintained even in London's grimy early morning traffic. With forty minuets before the tour bus departs we sit down to chat and I find Metheny in an extremely talkative mood, the exercise having banished any cobwebs from the musical excesses of the previous nights performance. I start by asking him if this special quartet and his own trio, who toured only three months ago were a natural antidote to the cinematic scale of the Group. "Not particularly, you know I'm lucky that ...

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