Eagle Vision USA
Recorded: Seoul, South Korea 2005
Pat Metheny (guitars),
Lyle Mays (piano, keyboards),
Steve Rodby (acoustic and electric bass)
Cuong Vu (trumpet, vocals, percussion, guitar)
Gergoire Maret (harmonica, guitar, vocals, percussion, electric bass)
Nando Lauria (guitar, vocals, percussion, misc. instruments)
Opening, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Bonus Track: Interview with Pat Metheny (22 mins)
Composed by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, “The Way Up” is an ambitious single piece of music spanning some 62 minutes and only nominally divided up into the four named tracks. The analogy is with movements in a symphony and the depth and continuity of concentration is certainly on that scale. Not that the music is heavy in any way, for the most part we are in typical Pat Metheny territory with the emphasis on the uplifting and the transcendental. The result is a most rewarding involvement with the music of a band the core of which has been together since 1977. And this shows in the real empathy between the players.
In the 22 minute bonus interview with Pat Metheny, he talks about the quartet that has been at the heart of the Group for almost thirty years, how it is widely recognised that piano and guitar are normally difficult to integrate but how his understanding with Lyle Mays was there right from the start. Since the Group first started, so much more is now possible in terms of adding synthesised effects to guitar (hence the number of guitars used), keyboards, drums but that this increased polyphony has its own drawbacks, how he is aware that thee effects need to be offset by the use of balancing natural sounds. And it is interesting to note the inclusion of Gregoire Maret’s harmonica here which certainly adds warmth and human tonal shades to the overall sound. (Saxophone may have been more expected in this role in a jazz context). Perhaps this also explains the use of synthesized human vocals (Gregoire Maret, Cuong Vu and Nando Lauria), albeit used sparingly here compared with earlier Pat Metheny Group outings but certainly a feature that requires very careful handling if the effect is not to descend into jazz-lite.
Pat Metheny is also interesting in describing the music of “The Way Up” as a conception of progression in time. The means that artists have to indicate progression have changed in recent years, he argues, citing film making techniques such as those used in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Amores Perros” as an example. Concerns such as these mean that jazz has been able to progress beyond the groundbreaking achievements of the early jazz masters.
Overall this is a stimulating performance, well produced with excellent sound quality and a clearly to be preferred over the CD only version.
Star Rating ****
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