1. Make Peace
2. The Sound of Water
3. Waltz for Ruth
4. Our Spanish Love Song
5. First Song
6. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
7. Message to my Friend
8. The Precious Jewel
9. Two for the Road
10. Farmer's Trust
11. Blues for Pat
12. Blue in Green
Pat Metheny - Guitars
Charlie Haden - Double bass
More than a dozen years ago, Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden made a record album entitled "Beyond the Missouri Sky". Now here's a DVD of some of the same material performed at a July 2009 concert in Spain. Metheny has explained the title by saying that he and Haden "came from towns in Missouri that are about 100 miles apart". The DVD comes with a minimum of information, not even listing the composers of the tunes. But the sound quality is good.
Pat starts with a heart-tugging solo performance of Make Peace. Guitarists will appreciate the close-ups which show Pat's fingerwork and the way he switches effortlessly from playing with a plectrum to using his fingers (tucking the plectrum in his teeth).
Pat adds a device like a sitar to his guitar to evoke The Sound of Water. He inserts his own bass notes on the guitar, thus virtually playing a duet with himself. Bassist Charlie Haden joins him for the rest of the concert, starting with Charlie's tribute to his wife, Waltz for Ruth, which is almost classical in its restraint. Haden's bass supplies a sort of counterpoint to Metheny's guitar but the effect is distracting instead of adding to the impact of Pat's playing.
Our Spanish Love Song begins with a slow flamenco feel from the guitar before picking up the tempo for a swaying rhythm. First Song is very slow and plaintive, with the double bass not always synchronising with the guitar. Haden's long bass solo appears to involve him closely watching the sheet music, whereas Pat plays without any dots. The next two tracks are ballads, with the former again having a touch of flamenco from the guitar. Thankfully the tempo picks up with Metheny strumming while Haden states the melody of The Precious Jewel, a moving country song. Unfortunately Haden loses the impetus by slowing the rhythm in his solo.
By the time we reach Henry Mancini's Two for the Road, I was convinced that - despite the close friendship of the duettists - this is not a good working relationship. While Metheny often smiles and injects life into the music, Haden looks solemn and he gives many tunes a funereal feeling - often playing too stolidly to match Metheny's enthusiasm. When Pat picks up a new guitar for Blues for Pat, and reminds us of the gorgeously resonant sound he has made with his quartet, Haden adds little excitement with his torpid four-in-a-bar and dull solo. In the final Blue in Green, Charlie resists Pat's hints at doubling the tempo.
I have greatly admired many of Pat Metheny's previous recordings, so I am sorry to say that this is not one of his best. Despite Pat's dexterity and imagination, most of the music is slow and pensive - often veering closer to folk music than jazz. And Haden's bass-playing fails to provide any stimulation. The result is a DVD that may supply relaxing viewing/listening or even acceptable background music but lacks the vitality to engage the listener - at least, this listener.