December 14, 2004 by Nathan Rodriguez for JamBase | Colorado
In the past quarter century, it is tough to find too many artists who have had as big of an impact on modern music as Pat Metheny. While most artists are often forced to choose between being respected by critics and their peers or being accessible to the masses, Metheny has been universally revered for not compromising his musical integrity while creating music that can be enjoyed by a wide range of listeners.
An entire generation of jazz artists and musicians from a number of genres has been drawn to Metheny for a variety of reasons. Former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio claims that hearing Metheny "completely reshuffled my deck." Countless other musicians have gravitated toward the Kansas City native for both his virtually unparalleled creativity and virtuosity on the six-string. In short, improvisational music would not be the same today if it weren't for Metheny's exploration of new territories that defy traditional categorizations.
This is also a bandleader who has garnered a Grammy for each of his past seven releases - an unprecedented feat in music. His latest release The Way Up is slated to hit shelves mid-January, to be followed by a worldwide tour in 2005. Through it all, Metheny is beyond humble - he quite simply is one of the nicest, friendliest guys you'll ever meet. We got a chance to catch up with Metheny and discuss not only his new work and upcoming tour, but the general state of music today and the importance of being the worst member of your own band... enjoy.
JamBase: So you were born in Kansas City, is that right?
Metheny: Born in Kansas City.
JamBase: Good deal, I'm actually from Lawrence myself.
Metheny: Are you really?
JamBase: That I am... So being born into a musical family and having the rich jazz tradition of Kansas City in your backyard; at a young age did you still feel a need to search out new music or was it kind of all in your lap at that point?
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