One of jazz’s most enduring artists is guitarist Pat Metheny. In the minds of some, he is one of the genre’s premier musicians. As a fusion practitioner, Metheny has been on the cutting edge of his craft for more than 30 years. Since 1975, he has recorded and collaborated on more than 45 albums. In addition, he has toured hundreds of cities throughout the world and has garnered an immense following for himself. His latest CD entitled ‘Day Trip’ is yet another journey into sound, one that is always fascinating and sheds even more perspective on the versatility of Pat Metheny the musician. As a result of this latest release, he has embarked upon a multi-city tour without the Pat Metheny Group; instead, he performs with a trio featuring bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez.
March 5, 2008 brought the Pat Metheny Trio to Houston, Texas’ Verizon Theater for one of the many stops highlighting his latest release. Gone was the so-called wall of sound and light shows Metheny has become most noted for in collaboration with keyboardist Lyle Mays. This time out, he took an acoustical path into straight-ahead jazz, which has been a staple of his for the three years. In retrospect, Pat has also toured with a trio as well and ‘Day Trip’ is an integral part of his departure from fusion-based jazz. Although many of Metheny’s fans have become attuned to his style of music with such albums as ‘Imaginary Day,’ ‘Secret Story,’ ‘We Live Here’ and ‘Letter From Home,’ his acoustical approach to jazz was still a treat though unexpected.
As had been seen during previous visits to Houston, Pat began the concert with a solo display of guitar acoustics, without the presence of McBride and Sanchez. As guitarist under that circumstance, the audience was treated to Metheny’s sensitive side as he coolly displayed a true knack for traditional jazz. That caliber of music is something seldom seen in Houston, but either way, Pat did provide an enthused sense of appreciation for jazz; however, this was merely a foundation for one of Houston’s best concerts in a great while. Often times, the texture of jazz is forgotten in a city where smooth jazz concerts dominate the jazz scene. In more ways than one, Houstonians rarely received opportunities such as this. But this time out, the ‘Day Trip Tour’ with Metheny, McBride and Sanchez came with a unique opportunity and was a boon to jazz connoisseurs and aficionados alike.
Collectively, the imagery of the Pat Metheny Trio was technical and vivid. Their music was exact and was enhanced by the group’s subtle and sensitive presentation. This aspect too has been noted on the ‘Day Trip’ album as well and has become a signature of sorts. The acoustical prowess each musician displayed gave Houstonians a renewed sense of appreciation for the jazz tradition. In fact, what can be said about this tour is that Pat Metheny seems to be one of the few artists that can pull off the variances in jazz he often displays. This can also be noted in his longevity as an artist, along with the numerous releases, collaborations and enthusiastic responses experienced during his concerts.As a measure of excellence the ‘Day Trip Tour’ embarked upon by Pat Metheny and the associated album continues a process of jazz illumination. The environment in which some believe an epitaph has been written resurrections continue to occur. As an innovator, the Pat Metheny Group, Trio and the varying aspects tied to the music they have recorded keeps the tradition of jazz alive and well. As was noted on the evening of March 5, 2008, if the right artists are brought to Houston jazz enthusiasts will respond attentively and positively.
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