Pat Metheny at Beverly’s Cabot Theatre

Touring with a New Group of Emerging Musicians

By: - Oct 06, 2018

On a very special night, Sunday, 30 September at the intimate 1920s, newly renovated Cabot theater in Beverly, MA., the audience enjoyed a sold-out performance by Pat Metheny an extraordinary jazz  virtuoso; musician, composer and guitarist. 

A respected musician and veteran, who has received 20 Grammy awards, Metheny  was launching a tour with an exceptional younger-generation quartet. 

The evening’s performance would showcase talent including Gwilym Simcock on piano/keyboards, Linda Oh on bass, and Antonio Sanchez on drums. Metheny was re-living top-drawer selections from past recordings from The Pat Metheny Group and solo career, but with a new infusion of musical blood.

Following a long and stellar career Metheny was sharing past work with re-interpretations in a smaller setting. He was not burdened by expectations from a “reunion” tour label. A phenomenal set list included many favorites. but also quiet acoustic guitar-only pieces, closing with some fiery jazz-rock synthesized soloing and exchanges with band members.

Opening the evening, with a sense of comfort with a listener’s audience, Metheny sat alone at the front of the stage with a double-necked, 42 string Pikasso guitar. It allowed him simultaneously to play a harp- like set of strings with a free hand while using his right hand to pick a standard 6-12 string fretboard. He had the audience immediately enthralled by command of this instrument, beautifully alternating the tone of a harpsichord with acoustic guitar. It was a treat to see live if just for the realization of the musicianship involved, aside from exquisite sound from his amazing touch and feel for this instrument.

Jumping-up from his stool, he quickly brought on his quartet team. Grabbing his signature Ibanez electrified acoustic guitar Metheny launched into several well recognized composition that brought applause  from a sold-out theater. Taking his audience into his masterly renditions of Pat Metheny Group compositions (including “Have You Heard” from Letter From Home, “James” from Offramp, “Lone Jack” from the first Pat Metheny Group release in 1978). There were also surprises such as a rare performance of “This Is Not America” (soundtrack from the 1985 film The Falcon and the Snowman).

With the infectious wide smile of joy and wild mane of hair, scaling his guitar neck with a frenzy of dense chord changes, and riffs in between – the true strength of these seminal songs came through.

Evoking regular and typical generosity, Metheny engaged all three musicians in soloing opportunities and one-on-one exchanges. They were carrying on a musical conversation that was spontaneous and just poignant to listen to.

Metheny on stage was less “mentor to student” and more like “here’s what I’ve learned over 40-plus years – show me your version of my song.” At the break, speaking to the audience Metheny further reflected, “I had no idea that these musicians would show me other takes on my music and mining new ways of playing it.” It was, in his own words, this “chemistry” that became the catalyst for him to hit the road again, and tour with these musicians.

After band introductions, Metheny took time to reflect on his Boston roots and first opportunities to perform live with a then completely un-known band, seeking a break towards their first recording. He credited legendary, Boston-based, jazz promoter Fred Taylor (who was in the audience that evening) with giving him and his band (which included the late legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius and phenomenal drummer Bob Moses) their first shot. Taylor booked them at his legendary clubs Paul’s Mall and The Jazz Workshop in the 1970s.

Closing the set Metheny returned to featuring the tight musicianship of his quartet, with nuanced piano interplay by Simcock on keyboards, and a more mellow and reflective sound on jazz bass by Oh, coupled with highly energized rhythmic percussion from Sanchez on drums. Metheny then switched to his synthesized mode, wielding his familiar Roland G-303 Synthesizer guitar and finding a harder jazz-rock fusion edge with an extended exchange between him and channeled drum beats by Sanchez.

The evening was a treat to hear and a particularly generous set in length. Metheny’s intensity and joy for playing live was all there, with a musical gift on guitar that keeps on giving and amazing, sharing with a loyal audience and also introducing emerging musicians to his muse. 

 Posted courtesy of All About Jazz.