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Pat Metheny and Friends

by Jason Gubbels

Pat Metheny and Friends

About this playlist

Contemporary jazz guitarist Pat Metheny recently raised eyebrows after announcing plans to record an album of John Zorn compositions. It was as if Metheny's successful pop-fusion career is incompatible with the avant-garde restlessness of one of the Downtown scene's least commercial saxophonists. But anybody paying attention to Metheny's career over the past 35 years knows the guitarist is as uncategorizable as Zorn himself; his distinctive sweet-edged tone (and periodic detours into guitar synthesizer) has graced settings ranging from acoustic Americana to world fusion.

Ever since his shocking 1986 foray directly into the world of Ornette Coleman on "Song X," Metheny has consistently sought out collaborators from all edges of the improvisatory world and beyond, be it fellow Missourian Charlie Haden, guitar equals like Jim Hall or John Scofield, or the like-minded (and onetime ECM labelmate) Gary Burton.

This playlist gives an overview of Metheny's collaborations, highlighting his sympathy for vocalists (that's Pat comping/soloing behind Joni Mitchell throughout 1980's live recording "Shadows and Light"; that's also Pat on 42-string acoustic guitar alongside Polish singer Anna Maria Jopek on "Cichy Zapada Zmrok"), his respect for fellow jazz artists and a willingness to basically try anything. After all, how many other performers can claim notable studio sessions with both minimalist composer Steve Reich and Earth, Wind & Fire member Philip Bailey?

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