September 14, 2007


The guitar skeptic: Pat Metheny talks about the limits of his instrument of choice (WAYNE GABEL, 9/14/07, The Japan Times

For a guy who's routinely credited with revolutionizing the sound of jazz, Pat Metheny sounds surprisingly detached from his mode of musical expression.

"I don't really care about the guitar," he tells The Japan Times by phone from his New York home, ahead of a tour with pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard.

Of course, things aren't quite as simple as that blunt statement makes them out to be. Metheny thinks a lot about his playing, it's just that he doesn't regard himself as a "guitar freak." In his own laid-back way, the 53-year-old Missouri native views the guitar prosaically as a means to an end. That end, however, is pure poetry.

Though best known for a 30-year-plus songwriting partnership with keyboardist Lyle Mays, Metheny's now making news for his recent project with Mehldau, a 37-year-old American who's regarded as one of the most significant talents of his generation. If, as it's often said, Metheny and Mays are the Lennon and McCartney of jazz, then publicists will have to come up with an equally suitable catch phrase for the dynamic duo of Metheny and Mehldau.

The pairing has been hailed by both critics and fans as a perfect fit. To date, their collaboration has yielded two albums that have been compared favorably with the standard-setting 1960s work of guitarist Jim Hall and pianist Bill Evans. "Metheny/Mehldau," released in 2006 by Warner Music Japan, focuses on duets recorded during a 5-day session in December 2005. "Quartet," released this year, is mostly devoted to group pieces recorded during the same period with Grenadier and Ballard, who play in Mehldau's current trio.

I liked his Missouri Sky collaboration with Charlie Haden.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2007 12:07 AM

Great guitarist. Has bizarre and immature political views, let's hope he sticks with guitar.

Posted by: darryl at September 15, 2007 12:44 AM

Hey, his songs don't have lyrics -- they are very uplifting to listen to. Just don't read the books he recommends on his website.

Try this video: Pat and 42 string guitar for a taste of his immense talent.

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 15, 2007 6:01 AM