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Unity Band

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Album Review

On Unity Band, Pat Metheny reveals that he can look in two directions at once. The group he's assembled here is an all-star ensemble. Drummer Antonio Sanchez has been with him for a decade, while double bassist Ben Williams makes his first appearance with the guitarist, as does tenor saxophonist Chris Potter (whose soprano and bass clarinet playing are on display, too). Metheny makes full use of this ensemble's possibilities. That said, he looks back through his catalog and composes for this band from some of the information gleaned there. One can recall the swirling melodic euphoria of the Pat Metheny Group in the guitar and guitar-synth interplay in "Roofdogs." On the ingenious "Come and See," Metheny's many-stringed Picasso guitar meets Potter's bass clarinet to create a tonal inquiry before Williams and Sanchez establish a deep blue groove. When Potter adds his tenor and Metheny his electric, we get a Latinized swinging pulse that is ever so slightly reminiscent of the 80/81 band with Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman (this isn't the only place that happens here). Fans of Metheny's more abundantly lyrical side will appreciate the breezy sway of "Leaving Town," though its melody — twinned by his guitar and Potter — is full of compelling tight turns, before the rhythm section evokes a deep, swinging blues and the guitarist gets refreshingly funky in his solo. On "Signals" Metheny uses his Orchestrion and guitar with live loops; the band employs live loops throughout the intro on top. Potter's tenor solo is emotive, grainy, and reaching, while the atmosphere recalls — only generally — the album the guitarist cut with Steve Reich. The nocturnal, smoky "Then and Now" has a torch ballad quality due to Potter's utterly songlike solo. Set closer "Breakdealer" begins at the boiling point and gets hotter. The title hints at what Sanchez does throughout the tune while pushing forward, but Williams not only keeps up, he adds propulsive shades of his own and rocks the arpeggiated changes fluidly. Metheny and Potter are free to sprint and they do; both dazzle with their lyric invention and knotty, imaginative, nearly boppish solos. The two front-line players are surely at their best in one another's company on the date; you expect them to be. Yet it's the rhythm section that astonishes thoroughly. Their interplay is not only intuitive, it's informative; it points to new corners for Metheny and Potter to explore. Given the guitarist's more compositional solo experiments of the last few years — all of which have been very satisfying — Unity Band is a return to what he does best: composing for, and playing with, a band of top-shelf players.


Born: 12 August 1954 in Lee's Summit, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most original guitarists from the '80s onward (he is instantly recognizable), Pat Metheny is a chance-taking player who has gained great popularity but also taken some wild left turns. His records with the Pat Metheny Group are difficult to describe (folk-jazz? mood music?) but manage to be both accessible and original, stretching the boundaries of jazz and making Metheny famous enough that he could perform whatever type of music he wanted without losing his audience. Metheny (whose...
Full bio
Unity Band, Pat Metheny
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  • 10,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 08 June 2012

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