Last Call July Artist Spotlight: Pat Metheny

Jul 16, 2016

Pat Metheny is one of the most widely known and celebrated guitarists in jazz. If you have not listened to his music lately there are two new recordings that might interest you:

Pat Metheny: The Unity Sessions is a superb entry to the legendary guitarist's recorded work. Featuring Metheny on Electric and Acoustic Guitars with Chris Potter on saxophone, Antonio Sanchez on drums, and Ben Williams on bass, plus special guest artists, the date delivers. Give a listen to Metheny's revisit to material such as "Roofdogs", "Kin" and "Rise Up", there's no shortage of energy here. The guitarist also presents vintage material such as "Cherokee" and "Police People" in engaging performances. Metheny also shares a "Medley" of familiar songs from his long career. He also presents some fine solo performances as an added special treat.

On Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny, trumpeter Cuong Vu and his trio of Stomu Takeishi on bass and Ted Poor on drums  meet Pat Metheny in a new recording that has been released in tandem with the Metheny 2 CD set. Vu, known for his blistering, relentless attack, is met by the guitarist who refreshing aggressiveness provides an effective foil. "Acid Kiss" sets the tone for the rest of this intense, fiery date which also contains seven other songs, including "Not Crazy(Just Giddy Upping)", and "Telescope" that are highlights of this recording.

Guitarist Pat Metheny has done much to shape the direction of the instrument. Metheny was born in Kansas City on August 12, 1954 into a musical family. Starting on trumpet at the age of 8, Metheny switched to guitar at age 12. By the age of 15, he was working regularly with the best jazz musicians in Kansas City, receiving valuable on-the-bandstand experience at a very young age. Metheny first burst onto the international jazz scene in 1974, refining his soon-to-become trademarked playing style with vibraphone great Gary Burton on a three year stint. With the release of his first album, Bright Size Life (1975), he reinvented the traditional "jazz guitar" sound for a new generation of players.

Throughout his career, Pat Metheny has utilized new technology and is constantly working to evolve the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument. His most recent innovation is a device that allows him play an orchestra of other musical instruments simultaneously while playing his guitar. That was demonstrated fully on the one-man-band recording from 2010, Orchestrion. Metheny was one of the first artists to treat the synthesizer as a serious musical instrument. Years before the invention of MIDI technology, Metheny was using the Synclavier as a composing tool. He also been instrumental in the development of several new kinds of guitars such as the soprano acoustic guitar, the 42-string Pikasso guitar, Ibanez's PM-100 jazz guitar, and a variety of other custom instruments for musicians.

Over the years, Pat Metheny has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich to Ornette Coleman to Herbie Hancock to Jim Hall to Milton Nascimento to David Bowie. Metheny's body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras, and ballet pieces, with settings ranging from modern jazz to rock to classical.

Pat Metheny has won countless polls as "Best Jazz Guitarist" and many awards, including three gold records for (Still Life) Talking, Letter from Home, and Secret Story. He has also won sixteen Grammy Awards spread out over a variety of different categories including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, Best Instrumental Composition. The Pat Metheny Group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums.

Metheny is also an accomplished music educator, teaching music workshops all over the world, while on tour. He has spent most of his life on tour since 1974, averaging 120-240 shows a year. Metheny's new recordings find him with renewed vitality and aggressiveness, especially in the company of trumpeter Cuong Vu and other daring young players such as saxophonist Logan Richardson.  Pat Metheny is without doubt one of the premier jazz artists of our times.

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