PAT METHENY UNITY GROUP, KIN

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 photo by Jimmy Katz
Among the most prolific of musicians, jazz or otherwise, Pat Metheny is far from your average guitarist. After playing more than 100 concerts with his Unity Band – their terrific 2012 debut recording netted him his 20th Grammy award – he sets about composing a new record with even more moving parts and adds multi-instrumentalist and pianist Guilio Carmassi to an already tight crew that’s comprised of saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez – warranting the name change.

Kin (<-->) overflows with typical Metheny touches. The grand lead off tune, the 15-minute long “Day One,” covers these bases with expansive writing, remarkable solos over delicate layers of sound, complete with blazing synths, soaring wordless vocals and buzzy orchestration. Metheny has always been a musician of the world, incorporating influences and textures from cultures across the globe, and “Rise Up” bursts with his unique brand of optimism -- percussive Latin rhythm, blissful acoustic guitar, percolating saxophone, deep, and popping bass gives way to a high-flying electric guitar solo that dips and dives like a stunt plane at an aerial show. It culminates in a blizzard of harmonic intensity and instrumentation that is as dazzling as it is complex.

“Born” is among the guitarist’s most beautiful ballads – it’s lushly cinematic in scope and feeling and the group’s simpatico interplay consistently pulls you in. Halfway through the title track, there’s an impressive trading of solos between bassist Williams and saxophonist Potter, underscored by a zippy electronic foundation that crackles and fizzes throughout. The tune’s denouement rests on the shoulders of Sanchez and he consistently astonishes on his kit. Dispatching an arsenal of percussion, he’s an ever-inventive soloist, a powerful player and leader in his own right, and as with all of Metheny’s projects, the drummer gives this music its backbone.

In the press release, Metheny states “writing this music and putting it together for this incredible collection of players and integrating all the materials at hand was one of the biggest challenges I have ever undertaken.” That could be an understatement because Metheny’s control and intuition, plus the input from the quartet of players that he’s assembled that give rise to his compositions, is what puts him in a class of his own. The groove and street-wise beats that make “We Go On” weave and bounce ultimately codifies the popular achievement that is Kin (<-->) and it further secures Metheny’s rep as among the most revered and appreciated artists in music. Essential listening.  (9 tracks; 70 minutes)

The Pat Metheny Unity Group launches a 44-city tour in North America, hitting Philadelphia at the Keswick Theater on March 22. www.keswicktheater.com

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JAZZ IN SPACE: PAT METHENY UNITY GROUP, KIN

Saturday, February 1, 2014

PAT METHENY UNITY GROUP, KIN

-->
 photo by Jimmy Katz
Among the most prolific of musicians, jazz or otherwise, Pat Metheny is far from your average guitarist. After playing more than 100 concerts with his Unity Band – their terrific 2012 debut recording netted him his 20th Grammy award – he sets about composing a new record with even more moving parts and adds multi-instrumentalist and pianist Guilio Carmassi to an already tight crew that’s comprised of saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez – warranting the name change.

Kin (<-->) overflows with typical Metheny touches. The grand lead off tune, the 15-minute long “Day One,” covers these bases with expansive writing, remarkable solos over delicate layers of sound, complete with blazing synths, soaring wordless vocals and buzzy orchestration. Metheny has always been a musician of the world, incorporating influences and textures from cultures across the globe, and “Rise Up” bursts with his unique brand of optimism -- percussive Latin rhythm, blissful acoustic guitar, percolating saxophone, deep, and popping bass gives way to a high-flying electric guitar solo that dips and dives like a stunt plane at an aerial show. It culminates in a blizzard of harmonic intensity and instrumentation that is as dazzling as it is complex.

“Born” is among the guitarist’s most beautiful ballads – it’s lushly cinematic in scope and feeling and the group’s simpatico interplay consistently pulls you in. Halfway through the title track, there’s an impressive trading of solos between bassist Williams and saxophonist Potter, underscored by a zippy electronic foundation that crackles and fizzes throughout. The tune’s denouement rests on the shoulders of Sanchez and he consistently astonishes on his kit. Dispatching an arsenal of percussion, he’s an ever-inventive soloist, a powerful player and leader in his own right, and as with all of Metheny’s projects, the drummer gives this music its backbone.

In the press release, Metheny states “writing this music and putting it together for this incredible collection of players and integrating all the materials at hand was one of the biggest challenges I have ever undertaken.” That could be an understatement because Metheny’s control and intuition, plus the input from the quartet of players that he’s assembled that give rise to his compositions, is what puts him in a class of his own. The groove and street-wise beats that make “We Go On” weave and bounce ultimately codifies the popular achievement that is Kin (<-->) and it further secures Metheny’s rep as among the most revered and appreciated artists in music. Essential listening.  (9 tracks; 70 minutes)

The Pat Metheny Unity Group launches a 44-city tour in North America, hitting Philadelphia at the Keswick Theater on March 22. www.keswicktheater.com

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