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Pat Metheny Broadening the Boundaries of Jazz

Posted in MusicWorld on February 29, 2000 by

In a remarkably prolific and consistently influential 25-year, 25-album recording career, renowned jazz guitarist/composer Pat Metheny has explored an impressively varied array of compositional approaches and instrumental formats. In the process, he's helped to redraw the boundaries of jazz.

Metheny's distinctively warm, lyrical guitar lines and accessibly melodic compositions have won the respect of rock fans as well as jazz loyalists. Though he's most familiar to the general public through his work with the four-man Pat Metheny Group, he's also recorded extensively in a wide variety of more experimental modes and with a multitude of esteemed collaborators.

The three albums that Metheny has released in the past year demonstrate his multifarious adventurousness. Trio 99>00 finds the Missouri-bred artist returning to the trio format with which he originally built his reputation in the 1970s, teaming with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Bill Stewart for a spare, inventive session incorporating elements of bossa nova, blues and bebop.

Meanwhile, the soundtrack album for the film A Map of the World features a subtle mix of guitar and chamber orchestra with an eloquently spacious feel that echoes the film's visual vistas and the musician's own Missouri upbringing. And last year's Jim Hall & Pat Metheny teamed Metheny with one of his guitar idols for a sterling set of unaccompanied duets.

As if those projects weren't enough to demonstrate the broad variety of Metheny's tastes and talents, he recently published "The Pat Metheny Songbook," a 400-page volume encompassing no less than 167 Metheny compositions.

"No question about it, I've done a lot of different stuff, all within a lot of different dialects," Metheny recently stated. "They're different dialects, to me, of the same language.

"I got my first Ornette Coleman record when I was 11 years old [and] I put it right next to, you know, the Beach Boys record. . . . I really don't separate things. To me, music is kind of one big thing.

"Jazz is the all-inclusive form," Metheny recently told Time magazine. "There's room for everybody, for anything of true musical substance. Jazz guys like Duke Ellington or Miles Davis have always transformed the elements of the pop culture that surrounds us into something more sophisticated and hipper."