Review Summary: Pat Metheny Group delivers an innovative piece of music with their improvisation and dynamic capabilities. This is definately a jazz masterpiece on this side of the millenium.
When one thinks of jazz music generally they’ll be thinking of legendary musicians who lived many decades ago, nonetheless the ambitious and fruitful “The Way Up” by the Pat Metheny Group can be genuinely called a modern jazz masterpiece.
“The Way Up” features:
* Pat Metheny - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, synth guitar
* Lyle Mays - piano, keyboards
* Steve Rodby - bass, cello
* Cuong Vu - trumpet, vocals
* Gregoire Maret - harmonica
* Antonio Sanchez - drums
* Richard Bona - percussion, vocals
* David Samuels – percussion
The Pat Metheny Group is a proficient unit that has been a round since 1978. It features guitarst Metheny who has recorded and played with legends like Jaco Pastorius, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and many other notable names. Lyle Mays is Metheny’s co-writer as well as an accomplished pianist, he and Metheny have been staples in the band since its conception. The writing duo is accompanied with a strong rhythm section and musicians. Antonio Sanchez is notable for his excellent drumming with his notable cymbal work. Steve Rodby’s bass accompanies the frequent sensational melodies put out by the band with thick and fitting sounds.
Describing “the Way Up” is like describing a rich and beautiful landscape. There are many different textures and colours as well as identifiable sounds and smells. The pacing of the album is very gentle and careful almost like a relaxing wildlife documentary which tenderly explores every facet of the environment.
Sanchez’s drumming seems like the rhythmic rustle of deciduous tree leaves or the frequent chattering of insect life in a bustling tropical rainforest. Rodby’s basslines emulate the thumps of mammals walking along the ground and the thick surges of wind. This leaves a large space for Metheny, Mays, Vu and Maret to explore luscious and opulent melodies almost like the communication of birds in the spacious canopy of a jungle. The guitar and piano almost merge as one becoming a twisting and virulent coupling of songbirds. The diverse melodies weave majestically, delicate one minute, powerful and vibrant the next. The harmonica though it would seem out of place works well in the jazz group as it is used to show animated pulsating melodies in conjunction with the more sonorous trumpet.
The album is to a great extent like a narrative or an adventure. Motifs are used throughout the piece to give “The Way Up” a discernible theme. Though the album is designed as one long continuous song it is split up into sections such as Opening, Parts 1, 2 and 3, which informs the listener that this is an album to digest as a whole. It’s a standalone hour-long song and Pat Metheny Group’s most ambitious project due the live shows having to follow the same criteria. The album looks appetising to those into jazz music in all it’s forms as well as fans of relaxing chill-out music. Due to it’s similarity to a nature documentary it can be boring and dull at times, but after it delivers when listened as a whole.