Anything I’m going to write now will not adequately reflect the brilliance and how I feel about my newest acquisition, Pat Metheny – Unity Band. To say that I’m a Pat Metheny fan would be an insult to the folks who are actually familiar with this jazz guitar master and his work – so I guess I will have to consider myself as an admirer, who is always blown away when listening to this genius. Also, since I’m not a jazz expert, I can’t write up a meaningful review because of my lack of competence. What you are about to read is merely my perception of Pat Metheny’s latest project and an expression of how much I enjoy it.
I must admit that I was a little skeptical when I learned that Pat Metheny will work with a sax-player. Those concerns though, as it turned out, were completely unsubstantiated. Chris Potter (tenor sax, bass clarinet, soprano sax) did an amazing job throughout the entire album. He’s omnipresent, but he’s not taking over. Very much in tune with the whole band. Playful at times, but wise, no escapades. And I think the same is true for Ben Williams who did a fantastic job on the acoustic bass. I’m glad that Pat chose to add an acoustic and not an electric bass, it just fits this album much better and perfectly complements the laid back feeling I get when I listened to it. Antonio Sanchez on drums is a killer. Drummers fascinate me in general, but a good jazz drummer goes way beyond of what I’m able to comprehend. This is how I feel about Sanchez’ work on Pat Metheny – Unity Band. There is just so much good stuff going on, a real joy to listen to how he plays.
Well, that leaves me with the maestro himself – I was fortunate enough to see Pat Metheny about 20 years ago at the “Zeltmusikfestival” in Freiburg, Germany. I had front seats an therefore an excellent view. It blew my mind watching Metheny and John Scofield at work, having these sophisticated guitar dialogues. Anyway, I digress. What else can I say, other than he again did a fabulous job. I mean his style, his sound and his intensity are so unique. Again, I’m not an expert when it comes to jazz guitarists, but I can tell his playing apart from anybody else’s. Whenever I listen to Pat Metheny, I try to completely switch off my guitar player brain – it wouldn’t make any sense trying to figure out “oh, how did he do that?” and “wow, I wish I could play like that”. It would be just way too depressing. Instead, I simply try to enjoy, not over-focusing on the guitar parts, but taking in the music as “a whole”. I hope that makes sense to you.
When I listen to a jazz album, there is usually a track or two that I cannot get familiar with. On Unity-Band though, this wasn’t the case. It took me a couple of ‘listenings’ to warm up with “Signals (Ochestrion Sketch)”, especially the beginning part, since it is a little ‘abstract’. But I get it now, the song evolves further, more and more layers are being added and in the end, it’s just this vast sea of sounds and emotions, very cool, actually.
Well, as I had mentioned earlier on, this is by no means a meaningful critique on Pat Metheny – Unity Band, but just my personal feedback on the album. I really like it a lot. Unfortunately, I will be on vacation when the guys are coming to town in late July. That’s just sad but there is nothing I can do. Well, hopefully you guys are more lucky. Here are the Pat Metheny Unity Band Tour Dates in case you are interested and here’s a link to the Guitar Shop in case you want to buy this CD.