|Produced by Pat Metheny|
|Released on 1984|
|US CHART POSITION #102 . . . US JAZZ ALBUMS CHART POSITION #2 . . . Won GRAMMY for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental (1984)|
|Find it at GEMM|
[high resolution photo]
A nother Group, another Grammy, and you couldn’t begrudge them this one either. It begins in left field, a march into silliness that recalls Frank Zappa, with Pedro Aznar on glockenspiel and Lyle Mays on sputtering trumpet. Strange instrument choices lead to an equally unusual destination on “Yolanda, You Learn,” similar to Chick Corea’s more rock-oriented fusion, with Pat on sitar and Synclavier guitar (let’s hear it for another great Synclavierist, ladies and gentlemen). And then there’s the lovely “The First Circle,” as soft as a sigh before evolving into one of the PMG’s familiar southwestern vistas. From there, First Circle settles down a bit, coasting on the warm trade winds that run through most Metheny records from this period. The instrumentation is exotic, adventurous and humorous, including agogo bells, plenty of synthesizers and Pedro’s voice as an extra instrument. It all makes for an album with remarkable range, fusion in the true sense of the word that seeks to blend the natural with the artificial. The more I listen to First Circle, the more I hear, and together with Offramp this is my favorite Metheny album to date. The multitalented Aznar (percussion, voice, guitar) more than makes up for the loss of Nana Vasconcelos, while new drummer Paul Wertico wastes no time insinuating himself into the Group (he’d become a fixture for years to come). First Circle is a little spiky at first, a little languid in the middle, and forceful at the end. The melodies are memorable, not something I’d say about most jazz records; “Yolanda, You Learn,” “The First Circle” and “Praise” in particular stay with me the most. Jazz doesn’t get much more accessible than this, so if you’re new to PMG, First Circle might open up a hole new world for you.
|1-25008 back cover||1-25008 picture insert|
PEDRO AZNAR -- voice, percussion, bells, glockenspiel, acoustic guitar (nylon), whistle, acoustic 12-string guitar
LYLE MAYS -- piano, synthesizers, trumpet, Oberheim, agogo bells, organ
PAT METHENY -- guitar, Synclavier guitar, sitar, slide guitars, acoustic guitar (steel string), guitar synthesizerm, acoustic 12-string guitar
STEVE RODBY -- bass guitar, acoustic bass, bass drum
PAUL WERTICO -- drums, field drum, cymbal
Jan Erik Kongshaug -- engineer
Barbara Wojirsch -- cover design
William Clift -- photograph (Rainbow, Waldo, New Mexico, 1978)
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