PAT METHENY UNITY BAND
Unites Man and Machine in New Jersey
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

In the 1970's at a young age Pat Metheny was already a respected player in the jazz world. Pat is a past and progressive jazz composer/guitarist who is grounded in the traditions of the genre yet always innovating. Metheny has three gold albums and twenty Grammy Awards to his credit. Pat's latest incarnation is the Pat Metheny Unity Band.

Pat Metheny Unity Band Unites Man and Machine in New Jersey

"The undercurrent of my musical life has always been one of reconciliation and unification of all the sounds and ideas that I love as one big singular thing," states Pat describing this collaboration. The group features Chris Potter (sax/woodwinds), Antonio Sanchez (drums/percussion), Ben Williams (bass-stand-up/electric) and Giulio Carmassi (keyboards, woodwinds). The Pat Metheny Unity Band has a self-titled album out along with Kin which was released in 2014. The group is on a world-wide tour in support of the records, which included a stop at the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey on November 20, 2014.

Soon after eight p.m., Pat Metheny took the stage solo; he was greeted with a standing ovation before playing a single note. Pat was armed with a complex double necked 6 & 12 string guitar that also had 2 sets of harp strings incorporated into the instrument. Thus, Metheny crafted an engaging, expansive arrangement of sounds with some echoing combined with taps on the body of the guitar for an occasional beat.

Pat continued to play multi-parts on that instrument as the rest of the band blended into a jazzy jam for the second song. Midway Metheny switched to an Ibanez as Chris who utilized a number of woodwinds throughout the show wowed the audience with his first solo of the evening. Ben on stand up bass stood out on his showcase of pulsing plunks. Antonio was steady and strong all night on the kit. The well-played piece was well received by the attentive bergenPAC audience.

The next instrumental was packed with changes, colorful solos and an ending that was a bit crazed in a good way that got a standing ovation. It was followed by a subtle song with a slightly sultry vibe conveyed through Pat's crisp, clean chord progressions. Afterwards, a series of up-tempo cohesive compositions unfolded allowing each member of the band to strut their stuff. The Pat Metheny Unity Band was tight with musical connections that were agile and animated.

"Thank you from all of us. I really love playing here," said Pat after introducing the band and listing the tunes they performed during the first set which included "Come and See", "RoofDogs", "80/81", "The Bat", "Police People" and "James". Metheny mentioned their latest album Kin, stating that they would be presenting music from that record for what was the unofficial second set of the show that had an extra element. In total the band played around 2 and a half with no break just lots of jazzy jamming of note.

The title track Kin traversed tantalizing textures with Pat switching guitars in the hub of the song adding other tones to this fast paced fluid piece. It was an intricate instrumental featuring "orchestrionics" a term that Pat has used to describe his method of creating "ensemble-oriented music using acoustic and electric musical instruments that are mechanically controlled in a variety of ways, using solenoids and pneumatics". The "orchestrionics" added bells, more percussion and sounds to the group's already complex compositions.

Further lighting was used so that fans could see the slight movements of the mechanical instruments as the band explored broad musical terrains through a number of tracks. The second set featured Pat paired with his bassist and then his sax player for more intimate interactions with the two standing close together almost becoming one through their instruments.

Their encore started with a flute and rhythms at the front end of the piece before segueing into a soaring guitar solo from Metheny. The song had a jazz/rock feel perhaps in the vein of Steely Dan. As the show started it ended with Pat alone this time presenting layered acoustic leads. The Pat Metheny Unity Band beguiled the bergenPAC crowd with their ingenious, Technicolor jazz music.

The bergenPAC in the heart of Englewood, New Jersey continues to host eclectic artists such as the Pat Metheny Unity Band. Upcoming events at the theater included Dave Davies, Mooseltoe, Wild Kratts Live, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, NJ Ballet-Nutcracker, Jim Jefferies, The Hit Men, Neil Sedaka and LeAnn Rimes.

Pat Metheny Unity Band Unites Man and Machine in New Jersey

Related Links: For more information on PAT METHENY and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Pat Metheny Unity Band | Pat Metheny Live Review - 2010 | bergenpac.org

(Originally Published on November 21, 2014)

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