Speaking of Now finds guitarist Metheny leading a retooled Pat Metheny Group; in addition to longtime core members, keyboardist Lyle Mays and bassist Steve Rodby, the Group now includes drummer Antonio Sanchez, trumpeter/vocalist Cuong Vu, and Richard Bona, who's best known as a bassist, but who functions primarily as the Group's percussionist/vocalist. The result is an exquisite album that features fresh new musical perspectives while losing none of the Group's familiar wide-ranging, melodic, always accessible sound. Most of the tracks on Speaking of Now were composed by Metheny and his longtime collaborator Mays, although three tracks were composed solely by Metheny. There's a buoyant feel to this album that is not to be confused with lightness. This is complex, intricately detailed music that reveals additional layers with each listening. Metheny seems to delight in discovering the myriad means by which his prodigiously accomplished bandmembers can provide coloration to the compositions, both within the larger group and in solo spotlights.
There's a bit of a role reversal going on with this one. Trumpeter Cuong Vu—a Pat Metheny devotee from the time he first heard the guitarist's Travels (ECM, 1983) as a teenager—eventually came to join the Pat Metheny Group, enhancing the sound of the band on a pair of Grammy-winning albums: Speaking Of Now (Warner Bros. 2002) and The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005). Now Metheny returns the favor, joining Vu's crew for this expansive outing.
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.
The album won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, while "The Roots of Coincidence", an uncharacteristically aggressive song with hard rock-inspired sections, won Best Rock Instrumental Performance. This album marks the final appearance of longtime drummer Paul Wertico, who would leave in 2001 before the recording of Speaking of Now to work on other projects.