Picks and Pans Review: First Circle
Pat Metheny Group
One difference between David Bowie and Pat Metheny, who collaborated on the score of the forthcoming Sean Penn-Timothy Hutton movie, The Falcon and the Snowman, is that while Bowie hits the road largely to support his latest record, Metheny uses his concerts in part to develop new material. That is why Pat can go into a studio and glide out five days later with this jewel. On his albums American Garage and Offramp, Metheny, the 30-year-old guitar wizard from Cambridge, Mass., developed a sound that defies labeling (jazz fusion comes closest). First Circle finds his music vocabulary more expansive than ever. The melodies range from almost traditional jazz (Tell It All) to fusion (Yolanda, You Learn) to Brazilian samba (Mas Alla). On the title cut all these strains merge. For Metheny, having long since established his credentials, this record really showcases his support group: keyboardist and longtime co-composer Lyle Mays, bass player Steve Rodby, drummer Paul Wertico, and percussionist and vocalist Pedro Aznar. Only on Tell It All and the wistful If I Could does Metheny dominate. But the buyer need not beware; even if you came for the soloist, you'll stay for the band. (ECM)
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