By Sean Fenlon on January 31, 2016
20 time Grammy winning guitarist Pat Metheny has announced an extended run of dates around the world for 2016 under the auspices of “An Evening with Pat Metheny”. Recently inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame as its youngest member and only the fourth guitarist (joining Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery), Metheny will present a range of music from throughout his career.
After the massive worldwide successes of his Grammy winning “Unity Band” and “Unity Group” records and the extensive touring that followed, Metheny took a bit of a break in 2015. “This past year is the first time I have taken any real time off since 1994. It was great to be able to practice, do some research and start the process of developing some ideas that I have had cooking for a while”.
While 2015 may have been less active than usual for Metheny on the touring front, he nevertheless created the critically acclaimed large scale work “Hommage” for Eberhard Weber and performed it at events in Europe, Japan and America. He also served as Artist-in- Residence for the Detroit Jazz Festival performing with his own ensembles, his longtime associate Gary Burton and a newly formed duet partnership with legendary Miles Davis bassist Ron Carter.
For this upcoming 2016 touring period, Metheny wanted to continue “the research”. Says Metheny “The usual process for me over these years has been the traditional scenario that flows like this; write some music, make a record, do a tour. I wanted to break that pattern a bit this time. And also, I have so much music from over the years that I almost never play, I thought it would be fun and interesting to put together a really select group of musicians who could cover the widest range of everything I have done previously and could also possibly develop into something beyond that with a lot of playing together under our belts”.
Joining Pat this year once again will be his long time drummer Antonio Sanchez who has been his most consistent associate in a huge variety of settings since 2000. “Antonio is always incredible. He is one of the greatest drummers of all time and the fact that we have been able to share so much music together over these years is something really special for both of us. And I am so proud of all his recent successes with the “Birdman” score.” Antonio’s score for the Oscar winning Alejandro G. Innaritu film was nominated for a Golden Globe award and 2016 Grammy award as well as dozens of other prizes around the world. Pat goes on to say “Being on the bandstand with
Antonio is like nothing else I have ever experienced with any other musician. He has the capacity to listen and be inside the music with an intensity that is unique. That focus, combined with his truly otherworldly skills on the kit puts him his own category.”
Malaysian/Australian bassist Linda Oh has been extremely active on the New York scene for the past few years, playing with many of the major musicians in the community.
Metheny continues “I love to follow who the new players around town and I go out often to check out what everyone is doing. The first time I heard Linda, she immediately went to the top of my list of candidates. She has everything I always am looking for; great time, great notes and a lot of imagination. But the most important thing I am always searching for in any musician is an elusive and hard to describe quality that embodies a certain communicative ability to connect – not just to the other musicians, but to the audience as well. Linda has that. When we got together, she was so easy to play with. She went on to tell me how much she had been affected as a young player by my record Question and Answer and a few others, which is incredibly gratifying for me. I am really excited to get the chance to play with Linda.”
Rounding out the ensemble is British pianist Gwilym Simcock, one of the most exciting new pianists to emerge from the UK in many years. Metheny: “I first heard about Gwilym on a trip to London a few years back when someone at a radio station gave me his debut record while mentioning to me that he had often spoken of his interest in this music having been sparked by his exposure to one of my early records, again one of the most flattering things imaginable. When I listened to his CD, I became an instant fan; Gwilym is simply one of the best piano players I have heard in a long, long time. After trying to find time to get together over a number of years, in 2014 I was finally able to stay over after a gig in London do some playing. We had planned on getting together for a few hours or so, but wound up playing continuously for an entire afternoon. It was absolutely incredible what we were able to get to so quickly. I have only ever had that kind of communication and ease of playing with another musician a handful of times over the years to that degree. I am so excited to get the chance to play with Gwilym and there seems to be enormous potential there for us to develop a really unique way of playing together.”
As to what the performances will be like as the year unfolds Metheny says, “It could really be anything and everything. I have already written a bunch of new music inspired just by the thought of this presentation, but I could also imagine playing only old music one night, or even playing entire albums. I like the idea of keeping it open and letting it become whatever it winds up being over the course of a tour. At this stage, I have so much music and it all is kind of one big thing for me without borders or distinctions between this period or that period. With Antonio, Linda and Gwilym, I think we could and will do a wide range of things from throughout all of it – and maybe uncover what the next period has in store as well”