Pat Metheny : From This Place Review, A Powerful Musical Journey
Pat Metheny continues to build a catalog that is diverse and focused on making music from a space of creativity and love of sounds that elicit emotions. Metheny’s latest album, From This Place, is no exception and features ten compositions by Metheny that have the Hollywood Studio Symphony supporting a traditional jazz quartet. Metheny is joined by his long-time drummer, Antonio Sanchez, Malaysian / Australian bassist Linda May Han Oh, and British pianist Gwilym Simcock. The Hollywood Studio Symphony is conducted by Joel McNeely. Also, special guest Meshell Ndegeocello (vocals), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), and Luis Conte (percussion) bring their sound to Metheny’s musical vision. Metheny describes the project, “From This Place is one of the records I have been waiting to make my whole life. It is a kind of musical culmination, reflecting a wide range of expressions that have interested me over the years, scaled across a large canvas, presented in a way that offers the kind of opportunities for communication that can only be earned with a group of musicians who have spent hundreds of nights together on the bandstand.”
“Wide and Far” has a driving feel from Oh and Sanchez, Metheny’s instantly recognizable dark arch-top guitar sound plays the melody with the Hollywood Studio Symphony and Simcock providing support and colors. Metheny’s composition is melodic, and the harmonic structures flow with surprise and energy. The guitar solo is filled with the language that Metheny has been creating over the last three decades. He has single-handedly built a sound that stays true to the jazz mainstream while blurring the boundaries to form a genuinely contemporary mainstream jazz sound. Metheny and Sanchez have a unique chemistry, the two form a rhythmic force that is unstoppable.
“Sixty-Six” features a beautiful string opening with Sanchez playing a quick sixteenth note feel against the romantic and calm mood of the symphony. Metheny’s playing is always so stunning on a feel that features driving drums and a quick pulse paired with a ballad-like backdrop from the supporting ensemble. This sound has been heard many times with his earlier work, both with the Pat Metheny Group and even in his trio. Still, with the addition of real strings, the beauty, and lush feelings are magnified. Metheny spins out a building guitar solo that grows in intensity and range until he lands on a descending rhythmic figure that transitions into a glorious orchestral section with Oh playing a haunting melody.
From This Place puts the twenty-time Grammy Award winner’s music in a new setting that is organic and supports him in a way that is imaginative and fitting. A lot of the sounds heard on From This Place are recognizable from Metheny’s past catalog. Still, the addition of a real symphony orchestra instead of the electronic sounds usually heard in the Pat Metheny Group is truly a sonic and expressive improvement. This is a powerful musical ride that is rewarding on many levels and one that will reward years of in-depth listening. Metheny continues to grow and create music that is timeless.
From This Place
February 21, 2020