Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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METHENY, Pat

(b 12 Aug. '54, Lees's Summit, Kansas City MO) Guitarist, composer. Played French horn in school, took up guitar at 13 and was teaching while still in his teens. Infl. at first by Wes Montgomery, his lyricism was soon admired by other musicians as well as the public; he found favour with the New Age audience, though his music has more integrity than that suggests. Played with Gary Burton '74--7 (three LPs on ECM), then formed group with keyboardist Lyle Mays (b 27 Nov. '53, Wausaukee WI); played and/or recorded with Paul Bley, Sonny Rollins, Julius Hemphill, many more; film score work incl. John Schlesinger's The Falcon And The Snowman '85 (performed theme 'This Is Not America' with David Bowie), also episodes of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. Own albums incl. Bright Size Life '76, Watercolors '77, Pat Metheny Group '78, New Chautauqua '79, American Garage '80, As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls '81 (with Mays), Offramp '82, Travels '83, Rejoicing '83, First Circle '84, all on ECM. Two-disc 80/81 on ECM with Michael Brecker, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette was finally issued complete on CD; meanwhile Song X '86 on Geffen was challenging, intense music, much of it co-written by Metheny, co-led with Ornette Coleman and incl. Haden and DeJohnette. Still Life (Talking) '87 on Geffen was back in a more accessible groove with Mays and five others incl. two vocalists. Mays's eponymous solo album '86 on Geffen pleased New Age fans, followed by Street Dreams '88 with Bill Frisell and others, and more on Geffen: Letter From Home '89 had melodic improvisations using a multi-program synclavier, Mays on keyboards and multi-instrumentalist Pedro Aznar's wordless vocals; Clive Davis in The Times described it as unbearably insubstantial. Secret Story '92, The Road To You (live in Europe) '93, We Live Here '95; also Question And Answer '90 with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes: 'Change Of Heart' from the trio album won a Grammy, Metheny's fourth; the next album was Quartet '96 on Geffen, a return to the starker ambience of his early ECM albums, away from the lush New Age- ish sound. He also contributed to Steve Reich's 'Electric Counterpoint', with ten overdubbed guitars and two basses. Beyond The Missouri Sky '97 on Verve was a duo album with Charlie Haden, followed by the Pat Metheny Group's Imaginary Day on WB, while three-CD The Sign Of Four on Knitting Factory Works had Metheny and Derek Bailey exorcizing their live free- noise demons with a rhythm section of Greg Bendian and Paul Wertico.