the Pat Metheny interview

March 2002 by Michael Fagien for Jazziz


In the wake of recording the Pat Metheny Group's eleventh studio album, the jazz world's most celebrated and inscrutable guitarist discusses life in and out of the spotlight.

History will likely be exceptionally kind to Pat Metheny. The guitarist, after all, is one of the most innovative, influential, and versatile musicians of his generation. During the last three decades, beyond his endless touring, heís recorded an astounding lot of music in a stupefying array of contexts. His most enduring - and commercially viable - vehicle is the Pat Metheny Group. With a lineup that currently includes vocalist Richard Bona, trumpeter Cuong Vu, drummer Antonio Sanchez, as well as longtime Metheny collaborators keyboardist Lyle Mays and bassist Steve Rodby, the Group recently recorded Speaking of Now (Warner Bros.), the bandís eleventh studio album. With the record safely in the can, a relaxed Metheny sat down for an interview with JAZZIZ publisher and editor-in-chief Michael Fagien. Over the course of a sprawling conservation, Metheny was unfailingly blunt and articulate, whether discussing life on the road, the sounds in his head, or the mechanics of his art.

Michael Fagien: You seem to have always managed a rather hectic tour schedule. I remember meeting with you in a trailer 20 years ago for our first interview. You were on the road then and it seems like you've never let up. Do you enjoy being on the road so much?

Pat Metheny: I love playing so much. And youíre right, I donít think I know of anyone who has done as many gigs as I have over the past 20 years, at least not in the jazz world. For me it hasnít really been hectic as much as it has been really fun - and an incredible opportunity to learn about music and playing. And it was always a dream for me, the thing of getting out there and playing a lot, night after night. It is what I always wanted to do more than anything else. As much as practicing and thinking and working on music can benefit a playerís progress, I donít think anything compares to the impact that just getting out there and playing night in and night out has. It all becomes real onstage; there is nothing theoretical about it.

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