ECM-1-1114 Pat Metheny Group
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Released on March? 1978
US JAZZ ALBUMS CHART POSITION #5
Find it at GEMM
ECM-1-1114 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

P at Metheny and his newly christened group (which now featured Mark Egan on bass) returned to Oslo in the winter of 1978 to record his third album, simply titled Pat Metheny Group. As often happens (and numerologists can speculate among themselves), the third time was a charm for Metheny. The album showcases the guitarist’s unique vision for jazz: the dreamy textures that would soon be associated with New Age, the warm and lithe melodies that now clearly display Latin fancies, the sense of soaring in a vibrant landscape borne of a fond memory. Metheny was clearly working toward this style on Watercolors, but that album was too literal an interpretation of the elements, unable to conjoin the images of fire and water in a single picture. From the opening “San Lorenzo,” it’s clear that the Group has made leaps in comfort and ability. If “Watercolors” felt like a warm bath, “San Lorenzo” is a simmering sea of expression. On this track and the even better “Phase Dance,” Mark Egan’s bass works under the radar, twisting the notes up and down like a gentle prodding of the subconscious, while Metheny and Mays share the leads in a subdued act of showmanship. In fact, their solos usually work as if scratching the surface of a spice plant, releasing a fresh and stronger wave of the same scent that’s been wafting in the air all along. This allows the band to stretch their legs without straying from the original melody, a trait common to smooth jazz that makes the listening experience less daunting to fans of popular music. You could even make the case that some of this is pop music; “Jaco” feels like a Steely Dan song, while “Aprilwind” and parts of “April Joy” invite comparison to the work of Steve Hackett. Metheny, Mays and company were clearly crossing over into new territory here, bound to the traditional technical accomplishments of jazz on the one hand, and drawn by the guitar’s affinity for melodyspeak on the other. Throw into the mix a willingness to incorporate elements of progressive rock and electronic music on occasion, and you have a different sort of fusion that suited the electric guitar extremely well. It’s ironic that such a popular instrument (the guitar) had yet to gain a foothold in jazz, and this album goes a long way toward correcting the omission by showing how it could sparkle in the right setting.

ECM-1-1114 back cover
ECM-1-1114 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. SAN LORENZO    (Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays)    10:14
  2. PHASE DANCE    (Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays)    8:18
  3. JACO    (Pat Metheny)    5:34
  4. APRILWIND    (Pat Metheny)    2:09
  5. APRIL JOY    (Pat Metheny)    8:14
  6. LONE JACK    (Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays)    6:41

CREDITS

PAT METHENY -- 6- and 12-string guitars
MARK EGAN -- bass
DAN GOTTLIEB -- drums
LYLE MAYS -- piano, Oberheim synthesizer, autoharp
Jan Erik Kongshaug -- engineer
Roberto Masotti -- photo
B. Wojirsch -- cover design

return to PAT METHENY GROUP discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1978 ECM LP ECM-1-1114  
WW 1989/91 ECM CD 825 593  
JPN 2002 ECM CD UCCE-9029 24k gold disc
JPN 2004 Universal CD UCCU-5215  

 

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