Pat Metheny Side-Eye with James Francies & Joe Dyson
It’s rare for a musician to win one GRAMMY Award in a career. To have won 20 spread over Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Instrumental Solo, and Best Instrumental Composition is amazing. If you’ve won seven consecutive GRAMMY Awards for seven consecutive albums, you’re guitarist Pat Metheny, only the fourth guitarist to be included in the Downbeat Hall of Fame.
Metheny comes from Lee’s Summit, Missouri and started playing the trumpet at 8. He switched to the guitar as a teen and by 15 was working with the best Jazz musicians in Kansas City. He burst onto the international jazz scene in 1974 and spent three years with vibraphone great Gary Burton. Even as a young man, he had already shown his trademark playing style, a way of playing and improvising that was modern and yet grounded in the jazz tradition of melody, swing and the blues. With the release of his first album, Bright Size Life, Metheny reinvented the traditional jazz guitar sound for a new generation. Throughout his career, he has continued to redefine the genre by utilizing new technology and working to evolve the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument.
Metheny is known for his versatility. Over the years, he has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Milton Nascimento and David Bowie. His body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras, ballet and the robotic instruments of his Orchestrion project, always sidestepping the limits of any one genre.
In 2020, Metheny released a new album, From This Place, which features 10 compositions by him. It is, he said, a work for which he has waited a long time. “From This Place is one of the records I have been waiting to make my whole life,” he said. “It is kind of a musical culmination, reflecting a wide range of expressions that have interested me over the years, scaled across a large canvas, presented in a way that offers the kind of opportunities for communication that can only be earned with a group of musicians who have spent hundreds of nights together on the bandstand. Add to that the challenge of all new music and the spontaneous response it generated, channel it through the prism of large-scale orchestration and unexpectedly, From This Place becomes something that advances many of my central aspirations as a musician.”
Now Metheny is launching a new playing environment called “Side-Eye.”
“From my earliest days in Kansas City, I was the beneficiary of so many older musicians giving me a platform to develop my thing through the prism of their experience and the particular demands of what their music implied. I have been feeling like I wanted to have a specific platform to focus on some of the younger musicians I have enjoyed recently who I have felt some kind of a kinship with. I wanted to create an ongoing setting to feature a rotating cast of new and upcoming musicians who have particularly caught my interest along the way.”
Metheny said that he draws as much inspiration from younger musicians as they do from him. “I find myself inspired by how they deal with the musical challenges that come with the territory of some of these older tunes and at the same time I find myself intrigued with the possibilities of what might be possible in writing new music just for them. This band setting is what it will be all about.”
Come listen to Metheny and friends. You’ll be inspired, too.