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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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Metheny Mehldau Quartet

Nonesuch 7559 79994 0



1. A Night Away
2. The Sound of Water
3. Fear and Trembling
4. Don’t Wait
5. Towards the Light
6. Long Before
7. En La Tierra Que No Olvida
8. Santa Cruz Slacker
9. Secret Beach
10. Silent Movie
11. Marta's Theme (from Passagio per il Paradiso).
Pat Metheny – Guitar, guitar synth
Brad Mehldau – Piano
Larry Grenadier – Bass
Jeff Ballard - Drums

When I reviewed the previous Metheny/Mehldau album (review), I preferred the two quartet tracks to the duets between Metheny and Mehldau. Seven of the eleven tracks on this new disc are by the full quartet, and they benefit from the additional bass and drums, which somehow prevent the tracks from becoming too introverted.

Again, all the tunes are original compositions: seven by Pat, three by Brad, and the opening track a collaboration between the two. This opener illustrates the group’s appeal and the sympathetic interplay between the two protagonists, with solid but never intrusive support from bass and drums.

Metheny’s composition The Sound of Water is an appropriately liquid duet between Metheny and Mehldau, with both men picking their way tentatively through the theme and Metheny drawing some Japanese koto sounds from his 42-string (sic) guitar. Some of Mehldau’s compositions are harder to catch hold of. Fear and Trembling wanders towards discords and Santa Cruz Slacker is wayward, although Secret Beach is an ingratiating bossa nova.

Mehldau’s enigmatic pieces are fascinating but I prefer Metheny’s outing on guitar synth in Towards the Light – a questing piece where Pat makes the instrument sound like keyboards reaching heavenwards. It is reminiscent of the lyricism of Metheny’s own groups with keyboardist Lyle Mays, and it introduces a welcome extrovert mood in what is otherwise a predominantly inward-looking album.

Yet the pairing of Pat and Brad is unlikely ever to be uninteresting and this album maintains one’s interest throughout. It is a meeting of two musicians who genuinely respect each other – and that respect is clear in their thoughtful playing together. The album is also impeccably recorded.

Tony Augarde


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