Pat Metheny

From Academic Kids

Pat Metheny in Melbourne, Florida, USA
Pat Metheny in Melbourne, Florida, USA

Patrick Bruce Metheny (born 12 August 1954 in Lee's Summit, Missouri USA) is an American jazz guitarist and leader of the Pat Metheny Group.

Roughly, Metheny's musical contexts separate into many branches: the Pat Metheny Group plus various collaborations, duets, solo works, and other side projects.


Pat Metheny Group

The Pat Metheny Group is a jazz band founded in 1978.

Core members of the group are guitarist and leader Pat Metheny, keyboard player and pianist Lyle Mays, and bassist Steve Rodby who joined in 1981. The group has had many additional personnel come and go over the years.


Founder Pat Metheny came onto the jazz fusion scene in the mid-1970s with a pair of solo albums; the latter of these, 1977's Watercolors, featured keyboard player Lyle Mays. Metheny's follow-up album formalized this arrangement, featuring several songs co-written with Mays; the album was released as the self-titled Pat Metheny Group on the ECM record label. 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 octave-doubled Gibson-guitar and guitar-controlled synthesizer sound and Mays' Oberheim synthesizer. Even in this early state the band played its own compositions exclusively in a wide range of styles from experimental to grassroots.

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. Offramp marked the first appearance of bassist Steve Rodby (replacing Mark Egan) and Brazilian "guest artist" Nana Vasconcelos whose work on percussion and worldless 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). 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.

Then next three Pat Metheny Group releases would be based around a further intensification of the Brazilian rhythms first heard in the early '80s. Additional latin musicians appear as guests, notably percussion player and vocalist Armando Marcal. STILL life (talking), (1987) was the Group's first release on new label Geffen Records, and featured several popular tracks. The album's first piece, "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 typical Methenian jubilant major melody, leading to a Maysian metric and harmonically-modulated interlude, creating suspense which is finally resolved in the Methenian 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 heaviliy featured tracks from the two Geffen studio albums.

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. 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.

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 and vocalist Richard Bona from Cameroon. 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.)

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, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, and Roy Haynes, he has made records that have found favor with jazz critics that were disparaging of the "pastoral" or "light rock" aspects of his work with the PMG. Projects like the collaboration with Derek Bailey or the hard-to-fathom Zero Tolerance for Silence have confounded critics who saw Metheny as following a path of increasing blandness with the PMG.

Solo Recordings

  • New Chautauqua (1978)
  • The radically experimental Zero Tolerance for Silence (1992)
  • Passagio per il Paradiso (soundtrack) (1996)
  • One Quiet Night (2003)



Symphonic Projects and Soundtracks

  • The Falcon And The Snowman (1985)
  • Secret Story (1992)
  • Toys (1992)
  • A Map of the World (1999)



Metheny maintains that he plays what he would like to hear as a listener; with his innate curiosity, his music includes a lot of influences, classical as well as cultural. In particular he has been influenced by Brazilian Music. He has lived in Brazil and performed with several local musicians such as Milton Nascimento and Toninho Horta.

Metheny has also named Ornette Coleman as an influence, has recorded Coleman compositions on a number of his records, and has even made a record, Song X, with Coleman.

In turn he has himself been influential for a vast number of younger musicians. This is documented by the number of his compositions played by other musicians; and the number of younger players Metheny integrates into the Pat Metheny Group and various other settings.


  • Bright Size Life (1976)
  • Watercolors (1977)
  • Pat Metheny Group (1978)
  • New Chautauqua (1979)
  • American Garage (1979)
  • 80/81 (1980)
  • As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (1981)
  • Offramp (1982)
  • Travels (1983)
  • Rejoicing (1983)
  • First Circle (1984)
  • The Falcon And The Snowman (movie soundtrack) (1985)
  • Song X (1986)
  • STILL life (talking) (1987)
  • Letter From Home (1989)
  • Question And Answer (1990)
  • Secret Story (1992)
  • The Road To You (1993)
  • Zero Tolerance For Silence (1994)
  • We Live Here (1995)
  • Quartet (1996)
  • Passagio Per Il Paradiso (1997)
  • beyond the Missouri Sky (short stories) (1997)
  • Imaginary Day (1997)
  • Like Minds (1999)
  • Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (1999)
  • A Map Of The World (movie soundtrack) (1999)
  • Pat Metheny Trio 99 → 00 (2000)
  • Pat Metheny Trio → Live (2000)
  • Speaking Of Now (2002)
  • One Quiet Night (2003)
  • The Way Up (2005)


  • "Pat Metheny Songbook," (2000) Hal Leonard, ISBN 0634007963
  • Viva, Luigi: "Pat Metheny," Paris (1990) Editions Filipacchi

American Garage (1979)

External links

it:Pat Metheny ja:パット・メセニー pl:Pat Metheny ru:Пэт Мэтини fi:Pat Metheny


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