It's also got a lot in common with Steve Reich and John Adams.
October 31, 2019 9:39 PM   Subscribe

"What makes [Pat Metheney Group's 2005 album] The Way Up [68m] so remarkable is its sense of drama, and a keen visual sense that makes the entire piece, divided into four tracks for the purpose of navigation only, truly feel like a single composition rather than a series of interconnected segments. Themes are introduced and reiterated throughout the course of the piece; sometimes overtly, other times so subtly that they are only revealed after repeated listening." - All About Jazz

"The group’s 12th studio album is a 68-minute through-composed work of richness, complexity and stunning execution. Over its length, as in a good novel, themes and motives and details appear for a reason-because they will be developed and connected into the wholeness and meaning of a total design." - Jazz Times

"Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny stops by NPR's Washington studios for an hour of live music and talks with John Ydstie and callers about his approach to songwriting." - NPR audio link, Talk Of The Nation
posted by hippybear (8 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
And honestly, it's not, like, THAT kind of jazz. It's something else, felt new when it came out and still feels new. Check it out if you like longform composition.
posted by hippybear at 9:40 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like this story from Metheny. Right out of high school, he enrolled in the University of Miami's music program. This was a pretty new program, started by Dr. William Lee, whose son became the bassist in the Letterman show band. Anyway, Metheny had been doing more or less nothing but practicing guitar for his teenage years, and was already working as a professional musician in Kansas City. The first person he saw playing in Miami was Jaco Pastorius, who was not a student, but an adjunct instructor, but I don't think Metheny knew that at the time. He said he seriously considered just getting back on the bus and going home - if this is what everyone at this school plays like, I don't stand a chance.

But he did not do that, and he did great - in music classes. The rest of the college experience, he could not relate to at all, having pretty much ignored academics in favor of guitar all throughout high school. So he decided he had to drop out, and he went into the office of his department advisor, and told him that he just wasn't cut out for college, and he was going to fail, and it was time to cut his losses. So they offered to hire him to teach. He did that for a while and then taught at Berklee, in Boston - he's like 19 years old by now - where a lot of the etudes he wrote for his students to learn harmony became songs on his debut album.
posted by thelonius at 10:31 PM on October 31, 2019 [9 favorites]

What a fantastic album. I ♥ Pat Metheny Group. Thanks for sharing.
posted by jazon at 10:46 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've seen Pat Metheny every time he's come to town for the last 30 years, including this tour, where they played the entire album non-stop from beginning to end. After they finished, he said "this would normally be where I say that that was from our new album, but that WAS our new album."

I can't remember if it's in the liner notes, or if it was in an interview, but he said that the album was a reaction to the dumbing down of pretty much everything, and the short attention spans that everything was being geared to.

Aside from being one of the most inventive and wide-ranging musicians of the last 40 years, every time I've seen him play, there's not a single second where he doesn't seem like he's enjoying everything about what he's doing and who he's playing with. Don't pass up a chance to see him.
posted by jonathanhughes at 4:27 AM on November 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

So this is a true story. Back in the 80s I worked nights in Cambridge and regularly ran into Metheny at very late hours at the Porter Square White Hen Pantry.

Yeah a great player who clearly loves his music.
posted by spitbull at 5:06 AM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Love this album and have loved every time I've seen him live.
posted by leslies at 6:30 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

He's one of the few people I haven't gotten angry at myself for liking 20 years ago.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:47 AM on November 1, 2019

Thanks for the post, hippybear - a great reminder to revisit this great album. I'm listening to it now! Still a total original 14 years later.

I was in my first year of music school when this came out. I was already a big fan of both Metheny and long-form compositions; so when one of my profs tipped me off to this record, 19-year-old me naturally went pretty gaga for it. Managed to catch him while on a trip to Vancouver and hear the front-to-back experience that jonathanhughes mentioned. I was in town visiting a friend, and he took a chance and came with me despite not being a jazz guy or having ever heard Metheny's music before, bless him. But hey guess what: he loved it.

Those are some great memories. Thanks for the chance to revisit them. Always appreciate your great music posts, hippybear!
posted by CarrotAdventure at 9:25 PM on November 2, 2019

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