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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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PAT METHENY GROUP

The Way Up - Live

Eagle Vision EREDV 596

 

 
1. The Way Up - Opening
2. Part One
3. Part Two
4. Part Three
Pat Metheny - Guitar
Lyle Mays – Piano, keyboards
Steve Rodby – Acoustic bass, electric bass
Antonio Sanchez – Drums, electric bass
Cuong Vu – Trumpet, vocals, percussion, guitar
Gregoire Maret – Harmonica, guitar, vocals, percussion, electric bass
Nando Lauria – Guitar, vocals, miscellaneous percussion and instruments

Pat Metheny’s 2004 album The Way Up was an intriguing piece of music – a long composition by Metheny and collaborator Lyle Mays occupying a whole CD. This concert version of the piece – recorded in Seoul, Korea, somehow clarifies what was going on in the CD. As it is a continuous piece without clear divisions, it was not easy to find one’s way around The Way Up on CD but this DVD helps us by focusing on the musicians who are making particular sounds at particular moments, making clear who does what – and which instruments are dominant.

And what a wealth of instruments there are – around twenty played by seven versatile musicians. There’s even a thumb piano and a xylophone not specified on the sleeve. The familiar Metheny Quartet sound has been expanded by the addition of such instrumentalists as Cuong Vu, who adds great drama with his echoing trumpet, enhanced by electronics to sound like a huge waterfall or a flock of migrating birds.

Parts of the composition are almost as repetitive as a piece by Steve Reich: based on riffs gradually changing, ever so slightly. But The Way Up is integrated by such devices as the three-note pattern which appears near the start and recurs towards the end. The variety of instruments gives the work immense richness of sound, and it adds to one’s enjoyment to be able to watch the musicians at work. It is a particular delight to see Lyle Mays caressing the piano to produce those magical liquid tones at which he excels – and which, alongside Pat Metheny’s distinctive guitar, have been the trademark of Metheny groups over many years.

The moods and dynamics vary throughout the piece, including a lyrical harmonica solo which leads into a strumming pattern that then develops into a hustling melody, with guitar, keyboards and melodica playing a typically Methenyesque theme. Pat himself supplies some joyously electrifying solos and the whole band plays complicated arrangements with never a slip.

Metheny and Mays injected new life into jazz by stressing melodic beauty above technical expertise – although they both have plenty of the latter. This is a superb DVD which improves on the CD by letting us see as well as hear the group’s beautiful music.


Tony Augarde

 



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