© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
The December 2013 Downbeat carried the headline news that guitarist Pat Metheny had been elected to its Jazz Hall of Fame while winning the guitarist of the year poll for the seventh year in-a-row.
Who would have thought that a kid growing up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri would reach such heights [sorry, I could resist], let alone having sold 20 million records worldwide since his first trio recordings were released on ECM in the mid-1970s.
In the introduction to his Downbeat interview with Pat, Ken Micallef observed:
“Metheny's music is melodically rich, harmonically advanced and global in its compositional reach. It embraces the vanguard of recording technology, and with 2010's Orchestrion (Nonesuch), visits the outer reaches of the human-computer interface.
Metheny's collaborations with Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Joni Mitchell, Milton Nascimento, Derek Bailey, David Bowie, Chick Corea, Michael Brecker and Gary Burton express a desire to work beyond preconceived notions of what jazz is and isn't. Indeed, there's jazz, and there's Pat Metheny. …”
Keith’s interview with Pat is deeply probing and well-written and, as a result, it provides an engrossing look into the career of one of the most successful musicians in modern music irrespective of genre.
For example, in response to Keith question - “Do you think a lot about your conception of music, or is it innate?” - Pat responded with this detailed explanation:
“...I spend a lot of time imagining music and imagining sound and trying to think about what I really love about music— what is that? That's been the main thing for me from the time I first heard [Miles Davis’] Four And More and Tony Williams' ride cymbal on Seven Steps To Heaven. What is that? For me, it's more to do with how music is connected to life.
The quality that I admire in the musicians and music I love is something that always transcends the style it's played in. I don't put a lot of emphasis, obviously, on playing this way or that way.
I am happy to play free, I love to play on changes, I can play loud and I can play really soft. I can play with tons of space or with no space. These are all movable elements in a much larger pursuit, which is to try to set things up so there's some kind of resonance which fits with the resonance that I feel to just be a person on earth right now.
In that sense, the aspects of music that are the most interesting to me have very little to do with chords and notes. It's much more about "what is music?" How did this happen that we have this unbelievable connection to so many things through sound?”
Keith’s interview with Pat in the December 2013 edition of Downbeat in entitled Singular Intention and it continues the tradition of in-depth conversation with Jazz musicians that the magazine has been noted for over the years. Highly recommend as is the following version of Pat’s beloved composition Never Too Far Away which serves as the soundtrack for the following video montage.
It was recorded in performance at the 2003 North Sea Jazz Festival with The Metropole Orchestra, Jim McNeely, conducting. Vince Mendoza wrote the arrangement.