American Garage, Travels, Offramp, 80/84, Missouri Sky, The Pat Metheny Group
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As with all muisc best guide is www.allmuisc.com.I ran a jazz section for a shop for 6 years and used the book All Music Guide To Jazz a reference to keep a few thousand pieces stocked (I like Metheny enough saw him in Mas and Jerusalem while living in Israael).What was early LP everybody liked Full Circle?).Anyway book put out by Miller Freeman Pres is better tyhan Penguin,rough Guide etc etc.Has nea Muisc Maps whicb aloow you to look up jazz idioms or instruments from 1916 with Original DSixie Jazz band through Swing,Bebop,Hardbop,Postbop,Fusion,and contempoaray era'.Has nice 4 p[age jaz history synopsis,a list of famous clubs/venues,etc etc as well as one to five star rating of thousands of jazz artists.Is more etailed and easie to use than online www.amg.com but that is what I use for reference for all types of muisc from Mariachi to Miles and everything else.Like Penguin for Classical and Rough guide for world muisc.But the AMG guide is the ebst gift you can give yourself or any jazz fan.
Chazzbo (the jazzbo)
I prefer the ECM era: Bright Size Life, Watercolors, White Album (favorite), New Chautauqua (solo guitar), As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, 80/81 (Live)
. This is essentially the original Metheny group and I think will stand the test of time. Sonics are very good. ECM sonics tend to be a little laid back. Check out some of the Lyle Mays solo stuff.
I'm one HUGE metheny fan - have pretty much everything he's recorded, seen him live many times, met him, etc. I would preview all these on itunes and read the user reviews too. On itunes radio you'll find the official Pat Metheny radio station - just let that stream for 5 or 6 hours - you'll hear some amazing stuff.
The "group" (PMG) has two eras - the ECM period and the Geffen period. I won't even get into the "non-group" albums yet...
ECM: the first and last albums from ECM are my faves;
Definitely get the "group" album/"white" album you mentioned above - I think every song is wonderful - very melodic and lyrical. He opened every live show with "Phase Dance" for almost 30 years - up until recently. But unfortunately will sound hissy on most high end systems - production is not very polished, but maybe his most accessible and melodic album.
First Circle - his last album on ECM is very important - he started stepping up the production value and going "orchestral" in compositonal scope. Has a few songs you might not like - but the title track still gets a standing ovation every time he plays it live. Its like a symphonic masterpiece.
Travels (live) and Offramp would be my next favorites on ECM - the best song from that era is "Are you going with me?" which appears on both of these two albums. Incredibly romantic and emotional song.
Then on Geffen he started with Still Life Talking which happens to be my favorite on Geffen - with the hit ballad Last Train Home and Minauno and Third Wind - all 3 have been part of his live show not too long ago. But you seem to be a bigger fan of the Geffen stuff that I am so maybe our tastes are a little different but I'm old school.
The PMG is not touring of late but do whatever you can to go see him live. How many guys can play 300 shows a year 3 hours each for the last 30 years... and after each show I could name 10 or 20 more songs that I wish he'd done. I don't think you will see musicianship like this in any other live show.
Check out my recents posts here re: PMG - on his stuff with Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden etc also.
Enough of my ranting - but feel free to ask me anything metheny related anytime.
Rx8man - 'The Pat Metheny Group' (aka White Album) is one of the best pieces of music that you will spend your money on - EVER. 'Travels' would be my next pick. Also check around for used copies of "Pat Metheny Works" releases put out by ECM. They contain great samplings of his earlier work if you want a taste of his direction from album to album.
Certainly a lot to like from Metheny/Mays. In addition to those already mentioned, try:
Letter from Home
The First Circle
The Way Up
You will like the one with "San Lorenzo," which may have been the first release. For something really interesting, try Bob Curnow's LA Big Band doing some amazing transcriptions of some of the M/M pieces. You might also like the new release Metheny did with pianist Brad Mehldau--very enjoyable. I second the suggestion to check out the Lyle Mays solo work. Enjoy the music!
I have been a Pat Metheny fan since 1980, the year I first saw him live (RIT Rochester NY).
My favorites over the decades:
1. New Chautauqua (hey I used to live in Chautauqua county NY)
2. As Falls Wichita
4. Still Life Talking
5. 80/81 (this is not live.. the live album is "travels" and it is 80/81 not 80/84, for the year it was recorded)
6. Secret story
I was close friends with a guy who was working in a pressing factory in Phoenix,1978. Pat Metheny's first was being pressed in that factory. He just handed me a copy and said "check it out". Today, still it is my all time favorite. Title is Pat Metheny Group, Lyle Mays, Mark Egan, Don Gottlieb. All the others are great, the first is (I believe)out of this world. In fact, I think I'll put it on now.
"American Garage" and "Travels" are excellent. Travels has a long jam "Are you going with me?" that's always been one of my favorite songs (ie by anyone). The energy of the audience reaction really adds to the performance. This one needs to be cranked!
"The Way Up" came out in 2005 and I like it a lot (probably better than American Garage). It's a little more progressive than his other work. One review I read by a jazz purist said it's a "Prog-Rock" release and he didn't like it for that reason. It's hardly prog rock, but it is unique for Metheny.
"One Quiet Night" is an absolute must have. You MUST have it. It's solo acoustic, recorded on a baritone guitar. It's an amazing piece by anyone. I'm surprised noone mentioned it above.
You may also look into his work with Gary Burton. Gary was his mentor - discovered him so to speak. I have "Ring" by the Gary Burton Quintet, and while it's not the distinctive Pat Metheny sound, it features his un-mistakable guitar work. And he was only 17 years old when it was recorded!
Metheny has covered a lot of ground and a lot of styles, as you would expect from someone with such a long history and a well respected talent. I'll try to sum up the styles and best-of's within each period:
Primarily acoustic & "mood" jazz
- One Quiet Night
- New Chautauqua
- Bright Size Life
Metheny Group (early &/or more acoustic)
- Pat Metheny Group
Metheny Group (more electric)
- The Way Up
- American Garage
- Imaginary Day
- We Live Here
- Letter From Home
- Speaking of Now
- Still Lift (Talking)
Metheny Solo & softer pairings
- Secret Story
- Beyond the Missouri Sky
- As Falls Whichita
- Jim Hall & ...
Metheny solo & more frenetic pairings
- I Can See Your House From Here
- Zero Tolerance for Silence
Two more comments, off the beaten path a bit; There's a cool album where he (and Jaco Pastorious, Peter Erskine, Michael Brecker) was a sideman: Shadows & Fog.
Also, you'll notice nobody mentioned his soundtrack: The Falcon and the Snowman. That's because it sucks.
If there's one thing I wish we'd have is, some really good recordings of his. Especially the early stuff. It really sounds bad (compressed, no details, etc.) Only "One Quiet Night" and "Beyond the Missouri Sky" sound exceptional.
Also, nobody has mentioned "Song X" with Ornette Coleman.
I think is Geffen period sound like "Weather Channel" music.
Another off-the-beaten-path soundtrack he did was for an Italian film called Passaggio per il Paradiso. It is actually really wonderful. He's not gonna fool anyone into believing he's a world class drummer or synth player but some of those melodies are just beautiful. He also played in Joni Mitchell's touring band in 1979-80 time frame and is featured quite prominently on her excellent live album "Shadows and Light" along with the afoementioned Jaco Pastorius.
I can't believe no one has mentioned my fave. While not tecnically a Metheny disc he does perform the entire second half of the Steve Reich album Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint. The Kronos Quartet performs Trains but the star of this album is Metheny's smooth as butter minimal guitar loops that comprise Electric Counterpoint. The band The Orb even sampled a chunk for their song Little Fluffy Clouds. This is not like any of Metheney's other work and I wouldn't call it jazz in the slightest but it is excellent and VERY soothing. I listen to this piece way more than anything else by him.
ECM released all their PM stuff in Japan on gold and regular CDs. Both series were limited edition in mini-lp sleeves. More recently, a few PM CDs were released in the "Jazz the Best" series at lower price than the ECM. Again, a few were gold and others were regular CDs. The ECM series go for more in the secondary market.
I personally like the Metheny/Mehldau CDs, but I prefer the quartet pieces over the guitar and piano pieces. I also like most of the others previously mentioned as well as "The Way Up". The only thing I really dislike is the guitar synth. For me, a little goes a long way.
BTW: You should enjoy the "White Album", it's a must have.
Count me in as another Pat Metheny fan. Just received Pat Metheny Trio 99>00, Imaginary Day and Missouri Sky. The Trio CD went in first and was rather disappointed with the style of music. Didn't like that too much and was little worried the others might sound more less similar. Not until I played Imaginary Day. Wow this was more like it! Great tunes, quality of recording was top notch and I was totally hooked to the music. So far I liked this CD the best. Missouri Sky by Metheny and Charlie Haden was equally good albeit with a quieter presentation.
I have more Metheny CD's on the way, namely ECM Works, Offramp, American Garage and Pat Metheny Group.
I agree with you about the trio. As stated in my last writing..i havent met a metheny song or cd i didnt like. I was living in Sacramento Ca 7 years ago. Pat was performing live downtown there. I had seats around the 8th row dead center. I thought i was going to hear the Pat from his contemporary sound, only to get the trio. I never knew he composed and played this type of music being a total contrast to his trademark sound. The sound did grow on me as years passed by. But i feel no doubt that his contemporary fusion sound is bar none some of the finest in jazz.
Great thread. I just received a few more Metheny's older albums and was pretty shocked on the quality of recording on these CD's. Most of the recordings that date back to the late 70's are still excellent and in good shape. The great tunes of fusion music are a bonus. So far, I liked all Metheny's albums except for one, the Trio 99>00. However, I share the same opinion as with Chaz801 in that Metheny's contemporary fusion style is one of the finest in jazz music bar none.
I apologize for repeating most that have been said but just can't resist. Charlie Haden/Pat Metheny's "Beyond the Missouri Sky" is a must have. My favourites from this album in order are "Cinema Paradiso(love theme)", "The Moon Song" and "Our Spanish Love Song". I like "James" in "American Garage" and "Farmer's Trust" in "ECM Works II". Pat Metheny Group album with Mays, Egan and Gottlieb is another must have. "Imaginary Day" is another excellent album and my favourites are "follow me" and "across the sky".
Judging from the response here and recommendations of 'must-haves', "The Way Up", "Still Life Talking" and "Letter from Home" will most likely make their way to my doorstep very soon.
I'm glad I discovered this thread.
Re Beyond the Missouri Sky recommendation whcih couples Metheny and Haden - If you like that recording a must have is Charlie Haden and Kenny Barron in Night and the City. With all respect to the Metheny/Haden coupling, this recording by Barron and Haden is equally engaging in the same manner as Missouri Sky. FWIW.
I now have most of Metheny's albums and find three of his recordings that are exceptional in quality. They are as follows:-
1) One Quiet Night (recorded on Solo Baritone Guitar)
2) Beyond The Missouri Sky ; Haden/Metheny
3) A Map Of The World (soundtrack)
I am surprised no one mentioned the soundtrack "A map of the world" taken from the movie released in 1999 starring Sigourney Weaver. Quality of recording was excellent and the great tunes were a bonus.
The other albums especially from the early 80's and 90's are lightweight in the bass in comparison and do not possess the clarity and depth of the ones as mentioned above.
I've been a Metheny fan for many years. Never cared for the 3 CDs you mention but hey, that's a personal thing. The Metheny discography has a lot to choose from so just about anyone should be able to find something to their liking. One thing for sure, he never does just the same old thing! Because of this there are probably very few fans that like "everything" he does.
"... especially from the early 80's and 90's are lightweight in the bass.." ??? surely then you have not heard the ecm LP's, the german LP pressings are better than the u.s. pressings, but bass is exceptional (for example "Offramp" and "Wichita"; so is imaging, sense of space and detail. Perhaps something happened in the cd medium.
Offramp is my favorite. Bought it in 1984 and have listened to it steadily ever since. I haven't really liked a lot of his other stuff. I bought several more of his albums and offshoot group efforts hoping to get a duplicate of Offramp. No luck at least for me. The other stuff was very well recorded but I just didn't care for the songs. But Offramp is in my top 20 or 30 albums of all time.
I see the ECMs are being released in Japan on SHM CD sometime in September. Could be interesting.
I would appreciate if anybody can comment on the quality of an SHM CD vs. ECMs especially on "Offramp". I have the "Offramp" ECM CD and find the sound of percussion to be rather fake and not natural on my favourite track "Au Lait". I agree that "Offramp" is excellent. It is one of my favourite album from Pat Metheny alongside "Secret Story".