12.08. – Happy Birthday !!! Pat Metheny was born in Kansas City on 1954 into a musical family. Starting on trumpet at the age of 8, Metheny switched to guitar at age 12. By the age of 15, he was working regularly with the best jazz musicians in Kansas City, receiving valuable on-the-bandstand experience at an unusually young age. Metheny first burst onto the international jazz scene in 1974.
Over the course of his three-year stint with vibraphone great Gary Burton, the young Missouri native already displayed his soon-to-become trademarked playing style, which blended the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility – a way of playing and improvising that was modern in conception but grounded deeply in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues. With the release of his first album, Bright Size Life (1975), he reinvented the traditional “jazz guitar” sound for a new generation of players. Throughout his career, Pat Metheny has continued to re-define the genre by utilizing new technology and constantly working to evolve the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument. METHENY’S versatility is almost nearly without peer on any instrument. Over the years, he has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich to Ornette Coleman to Herbie Hancock to Jim Hall to Milton Nascimento to David Bowie. Metheny’s body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras, and ballet pieces, with settings ranging from modern jazz to rock to classical.
As well as being an accomplished musician, Metheny has also participated in the academic arena as a music educator. At 18, he was the youngest teacher ever at the University of Miami. At 19, he became the youngest teacher ever at the Berklee College of Music, where he also received an honorary doctorate more than twenty years later (1996). He has also taught music workshops all over the world, from the Dutch Royal Conservatory to the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz to clinics in Asia and South America. He has also been a true musical pioneer in the realm of electronic music, and was one of the very first jazz musicians to treat the synthesizer as a serious musical instrument. Years before the invention of MIDI technology, Metheny was using the Synclavier as a composing tool. He also been instrumental in the development of several new kinds of guitars such as the soprano acoustic guitar, the 42-string Pikasso guitar, Ibanez’s PM-100 jazz guitar, and a variety of other custom instruments. He took the whole instrument development process into a different level with his mechanical, solenoid driven Orchestrion.Pat Metheny Manzor Pikasso Guitar
Pat at North Sea Jazz Festival 2008It is one thing to attain popularity as a musician, but it is another to receive the kind of acclaim Metheny has garnered from critics and peers. Over the years, Metheny has won countless polls as “Best Jazz Guitarist” and awards, including three gold records for Still Life (Talking), Letter from Home, and Secret Story. He has also won 20 Grammy Awards in 12 different categories including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, Best Instrumental Composition. The Pat Metheny Group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums. Metheny has spent most of his life on tour, averaging between 120-240 shows a year since 1974. At the time of this writing, he continues to be one of the brightest stars of the jazz community, dedicating time to both his own projects and those of emerging artists and established veterans alike, helping them to reach their audience as well as realizing their own artistic visions.
One of the most original guitarists from the ’80s onward (he is instantly recognizable), Pat Metheny is a chance-taking player who has gained great popularity but also taken some wild left turns. His records with the Pat Metheny Group are difficult to describe (folk-jazz? mood music?) but manage to be both accessible and original, stretching the boundaries of jazz and making Metheny famous enough that he could perform whatever type of music he wanted without losing his audience.
80/81Metheny (whose older brother is the trumpeter Mike Metheny) started on guitar when he was 13. His talent developed quickly; he taught at both the University of Miami and Berklee while he was a teenager, and made his recording debut with Paul Bley and Jaco Pastorius in 1974. He spent an important period (1974-1977) with Gary Burton’s group, met keyboardist Lyle Mays, and in 1978 formed his own group, which originally featured Mays, bassist Mark Egan, and drummer Dan Gottlieb. Within a short period he was ECM’s top artist and one of the most popular of all jazzmen, selling out stadiums. Metheny mostly avoided playing predictable music, and his freelance projects were always quite interesting. His 1980 album 80/81 featured Dewey Redman and Mike Brecker in a post-bop quintet; he teamed up with Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins on a trio date in 1983; and two years later recorded the very outside Song X with Ornette Coleman. Metheny’s other projects away from the group have included a sideman recording with Sonny Rollins, a 1990 tour with Herbie Hancock in a quartet, a trio album with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes, and a collaboration (and tour) with Joshua Redman.
Zero Tolerance for Silence Although his 1994 recording Zero Tolerance for Silence baffled his audience, Metheny retained his popularity as a consistently creative performer. In addition to recording for ECM, he has appeared as a leader on the Geffen, Warner Bros., and Nonesuch labels. Metheny has remained active in the 21st century, releasing Speaking of Now in 2002, the acoustic solo album One Quiet Night in 2003, Way Up in 2005, and Metheny Mehldau in 2006. Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau returned to the studio the following year for Quartet. Metheny released the trio album Day Trip in 2008. Orchestrion, which featured a solo Metheny playing several acoustic instruments designed and built for him by Eric Singer, appeared from Nonesuch early in 2010. Metheny released What’s It All About in June of 2011, his second solo acoustic guitar recording. Unlike any other entry in his large catalog, the set entirely comprised covers of pop songs by contemporary songwriters (from Paul Simon and Lennon and McCartney to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Burt Bacharach, and Hal David) who have continued to hold meaning for him throughout his career.
Unity BandMetheny released Unity Band with saxophonist Chris Potter, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and bassist Ben Williams in June of 2012. In August the promised live The Orchestrion Project was released; it was a CD and DVD document of the one-man tour with the symphonic machine in 2010-2011. The guitarist made a compelling and independent left turn in the spring of 2013 in performing the work of composer John Zorn on Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels, Vol. 20 on the Tzadik (owned by the composer) and Nonesuch labels simultaneously. Metheny’s Unity Group continued to tour, and in 2013 reentered the studio. Kin, their second offering, was released in February of 2014.
Hommage à Eberhard Weber In January of 2015, Metheny was part of a tribute to bassist Eberhard Weber, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007 and has not performed since. The evening featured works written and inspired by the bassist, played by various groupings of musicians and the SWR Big Band. Co-billed to the guitarist, saxophonist Jan Garbarek, and vibraphonist Gary Burton, it was released on ECM as Hommage a Eberhard Weber in September. Metheny then delivered the live album Unity Sessions and paired with trumpeter Cuong Vu for 2016’s Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny.