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Thread: AAJ Review: Pat Metheny, From This Place

  1. #1

    AAJ Review: Pat Metheny, From This Place



    My review of Pat Metheny’s From This Place, today at All About Jazz.

    It's been a full six years since Pat Metheny last released a studio recording. This, despite the guitarist who has become, in a career now in the midst of its fifth decade, one of the most famous and influential jazz guitarists of his (or, some would argue, any) generation, reportedly having enough material in the can for five or six releases.

    Nor is it as if he hasn't kept busy. The guitarist, for whom live performance has always been like life's blood itself, toured for up to ten months a year, early in his career, with his flagship Pat Metheny Group. Giving his band mates a couple of months off, Metheny would then hit the road again for a couple months with one of his side projects, like the trio with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins responsible for 1984's Rejoicing, one of two final recordings released, that year, for his first label as a leader, Munich's ECM Records.

    Life changes (marriage, children, aging—he turned 65 in August, 2019) have reduced some of Metheny's time spent on the road in more recent years. Still, he continues to clock up plenty of miles touring with his Side Eye project (featuring a revolving door of younger, up-and-coming musicians), but, even more significantly, with the extraordinary core unit behind From This Place that's been together for the past few years: pianist Gwilym Simcock; bassist Linda May Han Oh; and Antonio Sanchez, who's played on more Metheny projects than any other drummer since first joining Pat Metheny Group for Speaking of Now (Warner Bros., 2002).

    Metheny's current quartet has criss-crossed the globe several times in the past several years, focusing exclusively on extant material spanning the guitarist's nearly 45-year career as leader. This represents a significant change from prior groups, dedicated to playing new music from their (then-) latest recording, in addition to some selectively chosen earlier compositions.

    Instead, through exploring many of the infinite nooks and crannies of Metheny's existing repertoire over the past several years, the guitarist's current quartet has found and continues to evolve a kind of musical code—a definitive way of doing things not unlike that encouraged by trumpet legend Miles Davis with his mid-'60s quintet featuring double bassist Ron Carter, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and drummer Tony Williams. Metheny, also touring in recent years in an intimate duet setting with Carter, often asked the bassist about his prestigious past, including why Davis' mid-'60s quintet played so little of the material it was developing for its studio sessions when it performed live. From Metheny's own writing, in the press package for From This Place:

    Continue reading here...
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

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    Great review. I’m waiting for my vinyl copy to arrive.

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    Member Birdy's Avatar
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    Awesome write-up John, thank you!
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    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Thank you, John!
    A great review and you really whetted my appetite for it.

    I look forward to spinning it once it arrives.

  5. #5
    Thanks, as ever, for taking the time to read....and for the kind words!
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

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    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Nice review, John.

    However, Re: the blurb about the title track, to the bottom of my wish list it goes...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    Nice review, John.

    However, Re: the blurb about the title track, to the bottom of my wish list it goes...
    Thanks, Dave....but....Why? Because it’s politically motivated? I think it’s a little unfair, with respect, as it’s ultimate message is a positive one and it’s far from anything politically direct or accusatory.

    Your decision, of course, but this is more generalized rather than specifically directed: and it remains a beautiful ballad, musically speaking.

    Anyway, like I said, your choice and if such things offend you, then I guess I’m glad I wrote about it. Also, at 5 mins it’s a very small part of an album over 70 mins that will appeal, I think, to the broadest base of Metheny fans of any albums in some time.

    Cheers!
    John
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Anyway, like I said, your choice and if such things offend you, then I guess I’m glad I wrote about it. Also, at 5 mins it’s a very small part of an album over 70 mins that will appeal, I think, to the broadest base of Metheny fans of any albums in some time.
    I'm glad you wrote about it too, John.

    Thank you for the nice review. I'm really looking forward to hearing this record when it comes out; I haven't even listened to the advance tracks that were released, because I want to save them for the complete experience.

    Pat Metheny is my 2nd favorite guitarist, just behind Allan Holdsworth, so I'm always excited about new music from him. He also seems to be just a very gracious human being too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    However, Re: the blurb about the title track, to the bottom of my wish list it goes...


    Oh well.

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    Thankx John, great review!.
    Pura Vida!.

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  10. #10
    Once again, thanks for those who have read the review...and those who’ve taken the time for such kind feedback.

    Th album is out today, so all I can say is: check it out!
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

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    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    Thanks yet again for yet another well-penned review. I really appreciate the detail and context you provide and I usually learn something new. Looking forward to hearing this. I think what you chose to include is fine and pertinent. Don't worry, all intelligent, informed people with a basic moral compass will truly recall the horrible "feeling of that tragic moment" and try to move towards "...reaffirming the hope of better days ahead." It has been always thus that a large swath of the people are blind to what is happening around them, or worse, do not care. As the great John Stuart Mill, said “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” ...and now back to the fight.
    Last edited by Buddhabreath; 1 Day Ago at 06:17 PM.
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by jkelman View Post
    Once again, thanks for those who have read the review...and those who’ve taken the time for such kind feedback.

    Th album is out today, so all I can say is: check it out!
    I gave it one full listen a couple nights ago; my vinyl copy arrived a couple days early.

    You were absolutely right about it being less impenetrable than some of his other recent work, like with the Unity Group. This one hearkens back to some of his older style(s) I think. Looking forward to many more listens.

  13. #13
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    Concurred. To some people, those who don't share your own personal beliefs are blind, immoral or both.

    Getting back to the music aspect, the album itself sounds interesting based on initial feedback and reviews.

  15. #15
    Just to be clear so I can, at least put it to rest, to Dave (in MA): I certainly didn’t mean anything offensive in what I wrote in response to what you wrote. Some people feel there isn’t a place for politics in music (in particular, largely instrumental music) - Dave Douglas once told me that music should be politically neutral. But even he has changed his mind on that .

    I guess my only comment, as I originally made, is this: of a nearly 77-minute album, the politics of the title track (which are, as I said, a combination of despair and hope) and the track itself only take up five minutes. If you’re a Metheny fan, I believe you owe itself to hear the other 72 minutes, but if you don’t agree because you have a problem with Pat have done this in principle, then fair enough. Far be it for me to tell you or anyone else what they should think or hear. My only reason for responding at all was because this brief move into “commentary” occupies such a relatively small part of the album, and ignoring that one track, if you’re a Metheny fan, is easy enough.

    But if you object on principle or just plain don’t wanna hear it, that is, of course, fair enough and I wanted to make sure that was clear, given there have been some other posts on the subject. I’ve always appreciated that you have, at least some of the time, read my writing and have been supportive to boot, so don’t want to alienate you simply because you might have issues with this one.

    Cheers!
    John
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

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    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    I didn't have any issue in any way with what you wrote, John.

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