Patrick Bruce Metheny, the longtime Woodstocker known as Pat who has won a record 18 Grammy Awards at this point, holds a number of lofty mantles. He’s one of the last practitioners of the ECM brand of New Agey jazz/fusion, drawing rock elements into standard jazz formats, deep in the public eye. And yet Metheny’s also considered, within the jazz world itself, as a constant (and consistent) avant-garde experimenter, always pushing the limits sonically and improvisationally. He has got the chops (and had them since his start, while still a teenager) to hold his own with all the jazz greats whom he grew up emulating; and yet he’s confident enough in his work to know that imitation is a diss, in the final rounds. To play jazz true, in the spirit of Louis and Miles and Trane and Sonny and Ornette, you have to do it your own way.
Metheny has brought Latin influences into his music, along with classical elements. He’s a tinkerer who has expanded the sound of his instrument, the electric guitar, while also using his composing chops alongside the likes of David Bowie.
“To me, the form demands a kind of deep representation of each individual’s personal reality. One of the many things that makes jazz unique is how well-suited it is to absorb material and styles and infinite shades of human achievement so well,” Metheny has said of his love for the music that he has been expanding for 40 years now. “Everything that happens around you affects you as a musician. However, it may not happen in overt way. For myself, I often think of the whole thing of being an improvising musician as being kind of like a reporter: You talk about the things that are going on inside and around you, but I think each person’s response to the events of their time is very personal and unique. One of the great things about jazz – and in fact, any kind of instrumental music – is the poetry that it offers. There are ways of discussing things in the syntax of sound that just cannot be expressed any other way.”
Simultaneously (and rarely), this Missouri-born original, who has stayed local for a lifetime here now, is not presumptuous, distant or overly full of himself. Sure, he has kept his instantly recognizable mane of early-1970s locks (more power to him for being able to!). What’s key to Metheny is an innate loyalty: to the people with whom he plays, to the music (and musicians) he loves and to those for whom he plays.
That makes make a reservation now for his upcoming local shows at the fantastic Falcon in Marlboro, on Wednesday and Thursday, February 8 and 9. Why? Because the room’s intimate (meaning small), and seating is limited for these concerts to those with dinner reservations only.
More importantly, Metheny’s trotting out a brand-new band this tour – and he’s jazzed, to borrow a phrase. “I have been a big fan of Chris Potter since I first heard him with Red Rodney many years ago, and have watched him grow into one of the major forces in the current jazz world,” Metheny says about the sax player with whom he’ll be playing in Marlboro, in between January and March tours of Asia with other ensembles. “He has developed a sound and identity that is deep and always interesting and exciting. I am thrilled we will be joining forces for this project. I can’t wait to play with him.”
“I first heard Ben Williams perform as a student at Juilliard. In that way that only happens on occasion, by the time he was eight bars into his first solo of the night, I was convinced that this was an important new musician on the scene,” the former guitar prof said of his rhythm section for the gig. “Antonio Sanchez and I have developed a rapport over the past 12 years that is significant. With Antonio, anything is possible. He will be the perfect drummer for this.”
Reservations are for dinner-and-show only on this occasion. That means early times: Meals get served at 5:30 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m. But that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily finish early, too.
The Falcon is located at 1348 Route 9W in Marlboro, between Highland and Newburgh, and features a full schedule of world-class jazz: the best in the region (if not the entire Northeast). For further information and reservations, call (845) 236-7970 or visit www.liveatthefalcon.com.