Metheny, Pat(rick Bruce)

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Metheny, Pat(rick Bruce)

Metheny, Pat(rick Bruce), fusion-jazz guitarist, composer; b. Lee’s Summit, Mo., Aug. 12, 1954. Growing up, almost everyone in his family played the trumpet and listened to marching band music. He played trumpet and French horn throughout high school and made his entrance into performing during football games as part of the marching band; however, he found brass instruments made his mouth sore. He was inspired to play jazz when his older brother Mike brought home Miles Davis’s album Four & More. From age 13, when he took up the guitar, until 19, he practiced constantly, between six and twelve hours per day. He played in Kansas City with Gary Sivils, Paul Smith, Tommy Ruskin, Russ Long, and many others in bebop and post-bop settings, organ trios and the occasional free jazz groups. He left for the Univ. of Miami (Fla.) upon completing high school, did some teaching there, and appeared on a student jazz ensemble recording. Studies at Boston’s Berklee Coll. of Music followed; he met Gary Burton there, who hired him to teach at Berklee and to play and record in his band (1974–77). By 1978, he formed the Pat Metheny Group with Lyle Mays, Mark Egan, and Dan Gottlieb. Besides touring and recording with the group, he has done film scores, garnered awards (Down Beat, Rolling Stone, Jazziz, International Musician, Recording World, and Grammy awards), and collaborated with a variety of artists including Dewey Redman, Paul Motian, Roy Haynes, Jack Dejohnette, Milton Nascimento, and Omette Coleman. In 1996, he recorded an album of free improvisations with Derek Bailey, Paul Wertico, and Greg Bendian; he also did a U.S. and European tour with Kenny Garrett’s Quartet exploring the music of John Coltrane. The Smithsonian invited him to perform with the Jim Hall Trio as part of a program on the history of the electric guitar. In 1997, he played with Michael Brecker in N.Y, at the Montreal Jazz Festival and in Japan. Among Metheny’s scores are The Search for Solutions by J.C. Cummins, (1979), Walk Me to the Water (c. 1981), Little Sister (1983), Jerry Goldsmith: Under Fire O.S.T., The Falcon and the Snowman, Fandango (1984), It’s for You,September 15th, Farmer’s Trust, Twice in a Lifetime, Grandpa’s Ghost (1986), Lemon Sky (1987), Big Time (1989), The Silent Alarm (1993), Passagio Per II Paradiso (1997), and A Map of the World (1999). Composer Steve Reich wrote Electric Counterpoint for him.

Metheny is a remarkable musician, technically virtuosic, expert at modern technology, unaffected, and harmonically adept. His music ranges from a sweet and folksy kind of fusion, sometimes derided by purists, to straight ahead, to raucous free jazz inspired by a lifelong love of Omette Coleman’s music that culminated in a recording and tour with Coleman in 1985–86. He has also chosen regularly to play with Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, and other musicians of the Coleman school. The music of Brazil is another lifelong influence.


Bright Size Life (1975); Watercolors (1977); Pat Metheny Group (1978); New Chautauqua (1979); Live on Tour (1979); Hour with Pat Metheny (1979); American Garage (1980); 1980–81 (1980); As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (1981); Live (1982); Offramp (1982); Travels (1983); Rejoicing (1983); First Circle (1984); Falcon and the Snowman (1985); Still Life (Talking) (1987); Question and Answer (1989); Letter from Home (1989); Zero Tolerance for Silence (1992); Secret Story (1992); Salt Lake (bootleg; 1992); Flower Hour (live bootleg; 1992); Secret Storm (1993); Road to You-Live in Europe (1993); Pat Metheny Group in Concert (1993); Í Can See Your House from Here (1993); Sign of the Four (1996); Metheny-Haden (1997); Trio 99–00 (2000). ornette coleman:Song X (1985).

—Lewis Porter