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Patrick Bruce Metheny (pronounced muh-THEE-nee) (born August 12, 1954, Lee's Summitmarker, Missourimarker, United Statesmarker) is an Americanmarker jazz guitarist and composer.

One of the most successful and critically acclaimed jazz musicians to come to prominence in the 1970s and '80s, he is the leader of the Pat Metheny Group and is also involved in duets, solo works and other side projects. His style incorporates elements of progressive- and contemporary jazz, post-bop, latin-jazz and jazz fusion.

Biography

Metheny was born and raised in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb south-east of Kansas City. Following his graduation from Lee's Summit High School, he briefly attended the University of Miamimarker in Coral Gables, Floridamarker. After Metheny withdrew from the University of Miami in his first semester, he was offered a teaching position.

Metheny came onto the jazz scene in 1975 when he joined vibraphonist Gary Burton's band and recorded Bright Size Life with bassist Jaco Pastorius and drummer Bob Moses.

Metheny's next recording, 1977's Watercolors, was the first to feature pianist Lyle Mays, Metheny's most frequent collaborator. Metheny's next album formalized this partnership and began the Pat Metheny Group, featuring several songs co-written with Mays; the album was released as the self-titled Pat Metheny Group on the ECM record label. Pat Metheny also has released notable solo, trio, quartet and duet recordings with musicians such as Jim Hall, Dave Holland, Roy Haynes, Toninho Horta, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Pedro Aznar, Jaco Pastorius, Charlie Haden, John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Bill Stewart, Ornette Coleman, Brad Mehldau, Joni Mitchell and many others.

Pat Metheny has also joined projects such as Song X with Ornette Coleman; Parallel Realities; and Jazz Baltica, with Ulf Wakenius and other Nordic Jazz players like E.S.T., Nils Landgren and has played with some great female singers from all over the world such as Silje Nergaard on Tell Me Where You're Going (1990), Noa on Noa (1994), Abbey Lincoln on A Turtle's Dream (1994) and Anna Maria Jopek on Upojenie (2002).

Pat Metheny has been touring for more than 30 years, playing between 120-240 concerts a year.

Pat Metheny Group

The Pat Metheny Group is a jazz band founded in 1977. The first Pat Metheny Group release, 1978's Pat Metheny Group, featured the writing duo of Pat Metheny and pianist Lyle Mays, a collaboration which would span over 25 years and 15 albums. The recording featured the bass playing of Jaco Pastorius bass protégé Mark Egan. The second group album, American Garage (1980), was a breakout hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Jazz chart and crossing over onto the pop charts as well, largely on the strength of the up-tempo opening track "(Cross the) Heartland" which would become a signature tune for the group. This early incarnation of the group included Dan Gottlieb (drums) and Mark Egan (bass).

The group built upon its success through constant touring across the USA and Europe. The early group featured a unique sound, particularly due to Metheny's Gibson ES-175 guitar coupled to two digital delay units and Mays' Oberheim and Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synthesizers and Steinway piano. Even in this early state the band played in a wide range of styles from folk to rock to experimental. Metheny later started working with the Roland GR-300 guitar synthesizer and the Synclavier guitar system made by New England Digital. Mays expanded his setup with the Synclavier keyboard and later with many other synthesizers.
From 1982 to 1985 the Pat Metheny Group released Offramp (1982), a live set Travels (1983), and First Circle (1984), as well as The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), a soundtrack album for the movie of the same name in which they collaborated with David Bowie. A single from the soundtrack, 'This Is Not America', reached number 14 in the British Top 40 in early 1985 as well as number 32 in the USA.

Offramp marked the first appearance of bassist Steve Rodby (replacing Mark Egan) and Brazilian "guest artist" Nana Vasconcelos whose work on percussion and wordless vocals marked the first addition of Latin music shadings to the Group's sound, a trend which would continue and intensify on First Circle with the addition of Argentinian multi-instrumentalist Pedro Aznar, which also marked the group debut of drummer Paul Wertico (replacing Danny Gottlieb) - both Rodby and Wertico were members of the Fred Simon Group at the time, and had played in Simon-Bard as well, in Chicago, before joining Metheny.

This period became a peak of commercial popularity of the band, especially for the live recording Travels. First Circle would also be Metheny's last project with the ECM label; Metheny had been a key artist for ECM but left over conceptual disagreements with label founder Manfred Eicher. The next three Pat Metheny Group releases would be based around a further intensification of the Brazilian rhythms first heard in the early 1980s. Additional Latin musicians appear as guests, notably Brazilian percussion player Armando Marçal. Still Life (1987) was the Group's first release on new label Geffen Records, and featured several popular tracks.

The album's first tune, "Minuano (Six Eight)," represents a good example of the Pat Metheny group compositional style from this period: the track starts with a haunting minor section from Mays, lifts off in a trademark Metheny jubilant major-key melody, leading to a metric and harmonically-modulated interlude creating suspense which is finally resolved in the original major theme. Another popular highlight was "Last Train Home", a rhythmically relentless piece evoking the American Midwest. The 1989 release Letter from Home continued this approach, even more relentlessly Latin, in its bossa and samba pieces.

Metheny then again delved into adventurous solo and band projects, and four years went by before the release of the next record for the next Pat Metheny Group, a live set entitled The Road to You, which featured tracks from the two Geffen studio albums amongst new tunes. The group integrated new instrumentation and technologies into its work, notably Mays' unique playing technique accomplished by adding midi-controlled synth sounds at command during acoustic solos via a pedal on the piano.

Mays and Metheny themselves refer to the following three Pat Metheny Group releases as the triptych: We Live Here (1995), Quartet (1996), and Imaginary Day (1997). Moving away from the Latin style which had dominated the releases of the previous 10 years, these albums were the most wide-ranging and least commercial Group releases, including experimentations with hip-hop drum loops, free-form improvisation on acoustic instruments, and symphonic signatures, blues and sonata schemes.

After another hiatus, the Pat Metheny Group re-emerged in 2002 with the release Speaking of Now, another change in direction adding musicians to the band who are one generation younger and thus grew up with the Pat Metheny Group. The new members on the bandstand are the drummer Antonio Sanchez from Mexico City, trumpet player Cuong Vu, and bassist, vocalist, guitarist, and percussionist Richard Bona from Cameroonmarker.

Metheny touring in 2003
Courtesy: Tyrone Lancaster
The latest release, 2005's The Way Up, is another large concept record which consists of one 68 minute-long piece (although split into four sections solely for CD navigation), a tightly organized, but not through-composed piece based on a pair of three-note kernels: The opening B, A#, F# and the derived B, A, F#. The reception of The Way Up was consistent, with standing ovations in each of the almost 90 concerts during the world tour 2005. On The Way Up, harmonica player Grégoire Maret from Switzerland was introduced as a new group member, while Richard Bona contributed only as a guest musician.

During the world tour Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Nando Lauria completed the line-up of the Pat Metheny Group. The Way Up was released through Nonesuch Records and all of Metheny's Geffen and Warner Brothers back catalogue is to be released on the label. Core members of the group are leader and founder, guitarist Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays (piano, keyboards) and Steve Rodby (double and electric bass) who joined in 1980. Drummer Paul Wertico replaced Dan Gottlieb in 1983 and continued to play with the group for more than 18 years, until he was replaced by Antonio Sanchez, currently also a member of The Pat Metheny Trio.

The current Pat Metheny Group members are Pat Metheny (guitars), Lyle Mays (piano and keyboards), Steve Rodby (double bass, electric bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Cuong Vu (trumpet). Other musicians that have been hired regularly for Metheny Group tours are: the late Mark Ledford (vocals, trumpet, guitar); David Blamires (vocals, miscellaneous instruments); Armando Marçal (percussion); Pedro Aznar (vocals, guitar, percussion); Richard Bona (vocals, guitar, bass, and percussion). On the most recent tour to promote the record "The Way Up", Grégoire Maret (harmonica, percussion, vocals) and Nando Lauria (guitar, percussion, vocals) joined the Group. Pat Metheny has collected 17 Grammy Awards, and of them, as part of The Pat Metheny Group, 10 of those awards were consecutive.

Side projects

When working outside of the confines of the PMG, Metheny has shown different sides to his musical personality. Working with established jazz figures such as Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Joshua Redman, Charlie Haden, Jim Hall, Dave Holland, Christian McBride, David Sanchez and Roy Haynes, he has made records that have found favor with jazz critics who were disparaging of the "pastoral" or "light rock" aspects of his work with the PMG. Projects like the collaboration with Derek Bailey and Zero Tolerance for Silence have confounded critics who saw Metheny as following a path of increasing blandness with the PMG. Metheny's latest side projects teams him with Brad Mehldau and his Trio. In 2006, Metheny appeared as a sideman on Brecker's last album, Pilgrimage.

Guitar contributions

Pat Metheny and his guitar.
the tradition of jazz guitarists borrowing tones and techniques from their rock counterparts, Metheny has made alterations to the jazz guitar tone palette.

Twelve-string electric

Prior to Metheny, Pat Martino had used the electric twelve-string guitar on a studio album, Desperado, and John McLaughlin had used a double-neck electric guitar with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. (Lenny Breau had introduced the acoustic twelve-string to jazz. ) Metheny introduced alternate 12-string tunings to jazz ; these can be heard on tunes such as "Sirabhorn" (from Bright Size Life) and San Lorenzo (from Pat Metheny Group and Travels).

Six-string electric

Metheny's tone, which has evolved over the years, involves using the natural full-frequency response of his hollow-body guitar, combined with high-midrange settings on his amplifier to create a smooth, sustaining lead sound that is virtually devoid of piercing treble yet is able to cut through a dense mix. By using digital signal processing that involves digital delay and reverb, he has created a big, rich, and resonant instrumental voice.

Guitar synthesizer

Metheny was also one of the first jazz guitarists to make heavy use of the Roland GR300 Guitar Synthesizer. While John Abercrombie and Bill Frisell also used it heavily in the 1980s, Metheny is the only one of the three who still uses the instrument on a regular basis. Unlike many guitar synth users, Metheny limits himself to a very small number of sounds; in interviews, he has argued that each of the timbres achievable through guitar synthesis should be treated as a separate instrument, and that he has tried to master each of these "instruments" instead of using it for incidental color.

42-string Pikasso guitar

Metheny plays a custom-made Pikasso I created by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer on "Into the Dream" and on the albums Quartet, Imaginary Day, Jim Hall & Pat Metheny, Trio->Live, and the Speaking of Now Live and Imaginary Day DVDs. Metheny has also used the guitar in his guest appearances on other artist's albums.

Manzer has also made many acoustic guitars for Metheny, including a mini guitar, an acoustic sitar guitar, and also the baritone guitar, which Metheny used for the recording of One Quiet Night. His latest use of the Pikasso is found on the album Metheny Mehldau Quartet, his second collaboration with pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio sidemen Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard; the Pikasso is featured on Metheny's impressionistic composition "The Sound of Water."

Influences

Metheny on guitar
As a guitarist, Metheny cites Wes Montgomery as his biggest early influence . In the liner notes on the 2-disc Montgomery compilation "Impressions: the Verve Jazz Sides," Metheny is quoted as saying, "(Smokin' at the Half Note) is the absolute greatest jazz-guitar album ever made. It is also the record that taught me how to play." His playing (as well as his tone) also show significant influence by Jim Hall, Joe Diorio, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and other classic jazz players . Metheny has often been quoted saying that he is as likely to name non-guitarists as significant stylistic influences as fellow guitar players, giving as examples players like Clifford Brown and John Coltrane . He has paid significant attention to the evolution of guitar playing across genres, however, and is familiar with the playing of notables from the likes of rocker Eddie Van Halen to Windham Hill artist Leo Kottke .

In particular, he has been influenced by Brazilian music--both the European-influenced jazz sound of the bossa nova and the intensely polyrhythmic Afro-Brazilian sounds of the country's northeast . Metheny has lived in Brazilmarker and performed with several local musicians such as Milton Nascimento and Toninho Horta . He is also a fan of several pop music artists, including The Beatles; James Taylor (after whom he named the song "James" on Offramp); Bruce Hornsby and Joni Mitchell, with whom he performed on her Shadows and Light tour.

Metheny has also named Ornette Coleman as a musical influence . He has recorded Coleman compositions on a number of his records (starting with a medley of "Round Trip" and "Broadway Blues" on his debut Bright Size Life); worked extensively with Coleman collaborators such as Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, and Billy Higgins; and has even made a record, Song X, with Coleman.

The Metheny Brothers

Pat took part in recording some of the CDs by his elder brother, trumpeter Mike Metheny, a talented jazz musician and a trumpet player based in Kansas City, Missouri, among them Day In - Night Out (1986) and more recently Close Enough for Love (2001).

Discography

References

  1. Allmusic.com article on Metheny
  2. Mike Metheny official website


Further reading



External links




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