Pat Metheny

80/81

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Pat Metheny's credibility with the jazz community went way up with the release of this package, a superb two-CD collaboration with a quartet of outstanding jazz musicians that dared to be uncompromising at a time when most artists would have merely continued pursuing their electric commercial successes. From the disbanded Keith Jarrett American quartet came bassist Charlie Haden and tenor Dewey Redman -- who alternates with and occasionally plays alongside tenor Michael Brecker -- and Jack DeJohnette provides more combustible drumming than Metheny had ever experienced on record before. Yet Metheny's off-kilter wandering on solo electric guitar is a comfortable fit for the post-bop rhythmic crosscurrents of this music. Indeed, Haden and Metheny are in total sympathy, perhaps celebrating their mutual Missouri roots, and Metheny's difficult "Pretty Scattered" -- which he mockingly described as "Guitar Revenge!" -- nearly manages to stump even Redman and Brecker. The first of the "Two Folk Songs" is a great example of the Metheny folk-jazz fusion, with furious strummed guitar underpinning Brecker's melodic line and excursions on the outside and DeJohnette's spectacular drums. Another remarkable track is "Open," a group improvisation that finds DeJohnette shaping the track's direction with a pushing solo and Metheny and the saxes emerging at the end. The two original LPs were organized so that the more distinctive Metheny fusions were on sides one and four and the overt jazz tracks occupied sides two and three.

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