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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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Secret Story

Nonesuch 7559-79981-0






1. Above the Treetops
2. Facing West
3. Cathedral in a Suitcase
4. Finding and Believing
5. The Longest Summer
6. Sunlight
7. Rain River
8. Always and Forever
9. See the World
10. As a Flower Blossoms (I Am Running To You)
11. Antonia
12. The Truth Will Always Be
13. Tell Her You Saw Me
14. Not To Be Forgotten (Our Final Hour)
Bonus CD

1. Back in Time
2. Understanding
3. A Change in Circumstance
4. Look Ahead
5. Et si c’était la fin (As If It Were the End)

Pat Metheny – Electric guitars, acoustic guitar, synthesisers, electric basses, keyboards, guitar synthesiser, keyboard bass, electric percussion, electric sitars, piano, electric piano, pikasso guitar, synclavier, accordion
Members of the London Orchestra conducted by Jeremy Lubbock
Charlie Haden – Acoustic bass (tracks 1, 8, II/1)

Naná Vasconcelos - Percussion, vocals (tracks 1, 4, 5, 10, 11)
Armando Marçal – Percussion (tracks 1-8, II/4)
Lyle Mays – Acoustic piano, keyboards (tracks 2, 6, II/4)
Steve Ferrone – Drums (tracks 3-5)
Mark Ledford – Vocals (tracks 3, 4, II/4)
Danny Gottlieb – Cymbal roll (tracks 3, 11)
Will Lee – Electric bass (tracks 4, 6, II/5)
Steve Rodby – Acoustic bass, electric bass (tracks 4-7,9, 11, II/4)
Paul Wertico - Drums (tracks 4, 5, 7-9, 11, II/4)
Gil Goldstein – Accordion (track 4), acoustic piano (tracks 7, 9)

Sammy Merendino – Drums (track 6)
Andy Findon – Flute (track 7)
Toots Thielemans – Harmonica (tracks 8, 11, II/1)

Michael Mossman, Mike Metheny, Ryan Kisor - Trumpets, flugelhorn (track 9)
Tom Malone – Trombone (track 9)
Dave Taylor – Bass trombone (track 9)
Dave Bargeron – Trombone, tuba (track 9)
John Clark – French horn (track 9)
Anthony Jackson – Contrabass guitar (track 9)
Akiko Yano – Voice (track 10)
Skaila Kanga – Harp (tracks 13, II/2)
David Blamires – Voice (track II/4)
Paulo Braga – Drums (track II/5)
Members of the Quebec Children’s Choir (track II/5)

This reissued 1992 album has been praised and maligned in almost equal measure. Many people have praised its ambitious eclecticism and called it "epic" and a milestone in Pat Metheny’s career, while others have rejected it as pompous and overblown. The "overblown" accusation might seem justified from the extensive personnel list above, which suggests that Metheny threw in everything except the kitchen sink. Undoubtedly it is an ambitious album but we may say that Pat’s ambition has largely been realised.

The album was recorded before world music started to be widely incorporated into jazz. In fact Metheny’s vision encompasses a variety of styles, including a Cambodian choir (strangely not credited on the sleeve), members of a symphony orchestra as well as Metheny’s regular jazz group, and Pat himself playing a huge range of different instruments. The richness of the resources used is sometimes in danger of swamping the music, creating what sounds like a film soundtrack or even something blander. Cathedral in a Suitcase sounds like a piece of seventies’ pomp-rock, and its repetitive bell-like sound soon gets on one’s nerves. Yet Metheny’s vision survives because of the obvious passion he put into every track, all composed by Pat himself (with Akiko Yano added as co-writer for As a Flower Blossoms). Another positive aspect is that Metheny has always stressed the melodic element in jazz (despite his rather abrasive excursions with Ornette Coleman), so this album is full of glorious tunes to lift the heart.

Fans of Pat Metheny’s normal group will find plenty here to please them, with Lyle Mays’ keyboards adding their special beauty to three tracks, and Pat himself supplying Lyle Mays-type sounds in several other places. As a bonus, this reissue contains an extra CD of five tracks not on the original album. They were probably omitted from the original version for lack of space, as the main CD lasts for more than 76 minutes. The bonus CD includes some poignant harmonica from Toots Thielemans on Back in Time, but it’s difficult to comment on the other tracks as they seem to be listed in the wrong order on the sleeve, so one can’t be sure which is which! Track 2 is probably Look Ahead, not Understanding, and it captures the Metheny sound as we know and love it: with swooping keyboards and ethereal voices.

Surveying the album as whole, one can understand the criticisms without agreeing with them. Ultimately one’s reaction to this album is likely to be personal (how’s that for a truism?) but, personally, I like it.

Tony Augarde





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