Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Pat Metheny - What's It All About (Nonesuch, 2011)

I must admit that I wax and wane with my appreciation for the music of guitarist Pat Metheny. While his talent as an instrumentalist is beyond reproach, the eclecticism of his album releases can be head-spinning. IMHO, his best music is made with colleagues that really perform at a high level: his collaboration with Ornette Coleman on the Song X album is one of my all time favorite albums, and his work with the likes of Charlie Haden and Dewey Redman have led to superb music. Lately Metheny seems to be in competition with himself, releasing the Rube Goldberg-ish multi-instrmental album Orchestrion last year, and returning this year for another solo album of quietly performed popular songs. When my friend told me about this album he described it as “mood music” which didn’t exactly thrill me, and while that is something of an accurate description, you can get a better representation by looking at the album’s artwork: in this case you can really tell a book (in this case compact disc or MP3) by its cover. Walking along the rails on a lonely noirish backlit street, a solitary figure recedes into the background. OK, so maybe I read too much crime fiction… Recorded late at night in Metheny’s home the music is a contemplation of the pop music of his youth, whether a haunting and spacious version of “The Sound of Silence” the theme from Alfie, originally made famous by Sonny Rollins. It’s quite a diverse collection of music ranging from the surf inspired “Pipeline” to songs made famous by Antonio Carlos Jobim and The Beatles, it’s a tour of classic melodies of the past. He switches to a number of different guitars over the course of the album, but the overall vibe remains quiet and respectful. While it’s not really and album for hardcore progressive jazz fans, people who enjoy well played guitar melodies especially from the pop side will probably enjoy this late night chill out album. What's It All About

Send comments to Tim.