Friday, February 21, 2020

Pat Metheny - From This Place (Nonesuch, 2020)

Guitarist Pat Metheny's newest album is his first album of all new compositions in some time and shows him joined by a very talented core band: Antonio Sanchez on drums, Linda May Han Oh on bass, Gwilym Simcock on piano and Luis Conte on percussion. This band is augmented on most if not all tracks by the Hollywood Studio Symphony conducted by Joel McNeely, and there are special guests that join the group on a few tracks. “Wide and Far” is a performance which is focused on the core jazz group with an upbeat theme and improvisation, while “Same River” enters deeply melodic territory with evocative piano playing, Methey's own distinctive use of guitar synthesizer, while the performance stays rooted with bass, drums and percussion and framed by soaring strings, all of which give the music the majestic CTI / cinematic flavor that Metheny discussed in a recent Downbeat cover profile previewing the album. A ballad performance guest starring harmonica player Gregoire Maret, “The Past In Us,” presents him in lush surroundings for the core band and the leader on acoustic guitar. The music is quiet and meditative, but still has a filled in quality owing to the subtlety of the string arrangement, and the deft playing of band. “Everything Explained” is a fast paced jazz performance with a complex rhythmic structure especially from drums and percussion plus excellent solo features for guitar and piano who combine rhythmic strength and melodic energy in excellent fashion. “Sixty-Six” is built around Linda May Han Oh's bass playing with her graceful ensemble playing and excellent soloing, in a gradually evolving track that provides room for guitar playing and drumming which shows skill and cleverness. This album actually worked quite well, Metheny's new songs have strong melodies and the band makes the most of them, playing very well with inventive solos and ensemble passages. The strings were not overwhelming for the most part, except for a few ballads, and were able to add some color and texture that added to the music without smothering it. From This Place -

Send comments to Tim.