Although one often thinks of Jaco Pastorius' first solo album as being 1976's Jaco on Epic, producer/keyboardist Paul Bley actually gave Pastorius his first chance to lead a recording two years earlier. Coincidentally titled Jaco, this spontaneous set (which has been reissued on CD) is also significant for being among guitarist Pat Metheny's first recordings; completing the quartet are Bley on electric piano and drummer Bruce Ditmas. The music consists of three songs by Bley, five from Carla Bley, and "Blood" by Annette Peacock. Pastorius sounds quite powerful, but Metheny's tone is kind of bizarre, very distorted and not at all distinctive at this point.
This is a soul-stirring release performed by Pat Metheny and a plethora of friends, all great jazz musicians in their own right. Works II is a compilation of his finest work, spread out from the years 1976 to 1984. This guitarist/composer/bandleader became one of the leading names in the jazz genre during the '70s and '80s. This collection of beautifully written numbers reflects his character of good taste and the unique flavor of his graceful, even-flowing solos. Opening with "Unquity Road," Metheny is joined by the legendary Jaco Pastorius on bass and Bob Moses on drums. The soothing sweeping tones of his guitar blends in charmingly with Moses pulsating percussion and the rousing basslines of Pastorius.
This live American concert in 1992 emerged on cd at about the same time as the Geffen release "The road to you" which was culled from PMG's european concerts in the early 90's. While this current selection may not quite equal that release in the quality of the sound, it is a much better live performance overall. There are a couple of small blips in the performance but this is live and taken from one concert. Raw Metheny but edge of your seat performance.
Despite the somewhat misleading title, Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny, trumpeter Cuong Vu has a lengthy history with the legendary jazz guitarist that goes back to Metheny's Grammy-winning 2002 album, Speaking of Now. Since then, Vu has played with Metheny enough that he is a regular part of the conversation when discussing the guitarist's more adventurous contemporary works. Despite his pedigree, having graduated from the New England Conservatory and worked with such luminaries as David Bowie, Myra Melford, Laurie Anderson, and others, Vu is a maverick. A highly gifted, forward-thinking musician, Vu often eschews the more clarion, declarative aspects of his chosen instrument in favor of macabre growls, dampened tones, and improvisatory lines that skitter forth with the mad convulsions of a housefly.
If 1980's As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls was defined by Pat Metheny's charisma, its less accessible but certainly rewarding successor, Offramp, finds him leaning more toward the abstract. But as cerebral as Metheny gets on such atmospheric pieces as "Are You Going with Me?" and "Au Lait," his playing remains decidedly lyrical and melodic. Clearly influenced by Jim Hall, the thoughtful Metheny makes excellent use of space, choosing his notes wisely and reminding listeners that, while he has heavy-duty chops, he's not one to beat everybody over the head with them. Even when he picks up the tempo for the difficult and angular title song, he shuns empty musical acrobatics. Throughout the CD, Metheny enjoys a powerful rapport with keyboardist Lyle Mays, who also avoids exploiting his technique and opts for meaningful storytelling.
The first recording by the Pat Metheny Group features the innovative guitarist along with keyboardist Lyle Mays, bassist Mark Egan, and drummer Dan Gottlieb. The music is quite distinctive, floating rather than swinging, electric but not rockish, and full of folkish melodies. The best known of these six Metheny-Mays originals are "Phase Dance" and "Jaco." This music grows in interest with each listen.
Guitar wizards John Scofield and Pat Metheny have consistently made commercially successful, accessible music while remaining true to their improvisational leanings. It's no surprise that their collaboration sounds so relaxed, fluid, and musically serene. Listeners shouldn't necessarily expect a series of slashing duels, but it's certainly not vapid new age or retrograde fusion. Scofield and Metheny divide compositional duties and play masterful, expressive solos. Guitar fans will be especially impressed with the mastering, which makes Scofield and Metheny's guitars sound right in the room.
Like the echo of a grand landscape, Metheny and Mays create an atmospheric meditation on traveling across the great open expanse of America As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls. By turns introspective and hymn-like, soaring and transcendent, the music resonates with a rural spirit, to which the Brazilian percussion of Nana Vasconcelos brings a more universal feel. Both "It's For You" and the epic title track evoke sonic vistas that touch a nerve with their layered keyboards and guitars. "Ozark" is a dynamic track featuring piano propelled by gentle percussion, while "September Fifteenth" is a quiet and deeply moving dedication to pianist Bill Evans. "Estupenda Graca" is like a gentle prayer sung both as closure, and in anticipation of the travels to come.
"Rejoicing" makes a perfect companion to "Beyond the Missouri Sky." Haden and Metheny share a magnetism on the ground that can only be matched by Lyra and Orion in the night sky. Each tune shines with lyrical brilliance; be it in the softened freedom of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," the dazzling blur of Metheny's clean runs on the title track, or the wailing synthguitar of "The Calling." Higgins on drums complements all the string action. Harmony, harmolodics, and eudemonics: the joy of the musicianship on this album uplifts the listener with its magic.