Pat Metheny has forged a staggering career rambling through many different subgenres of jazz. Some more experimental, some more traditional, some more melodic, but all impeccably performed.
As Pat shared from the stage at The Paramount Theater, in what was the most conversational show I’ve ever seen him perform, the “Dream Box” release is a collection of spontaneous solo guitar performances that were squirreled away and unexpectedly rediscovered while on tour. Given the stripped down nature of the music being basically Pat and a guitar, they lean heavily on the midwestern chill vibe that serves as background music perhaps more appropriately than full attention listening.
Throughout the show, Pat showcased the nuances and tone variations of a wide variety of guitars, ranging from nylon and steel string to baritone, hollow body electric and a 42-string Pikaso guitar monster that was custom built for Pat and is always a spectacle in how much diversity of sound is generated from one instrument played by one man. A sampling of his Orchestrion concept was revealed near the end of the show.
Metheny wove a tapestry of tones, sneaking in snippets of familiar riffs from the Pat Metheny Group classics, which for my listening tastes, are the best of his recordings. “Song for the Boys” was an energetic strumming exercise that evoked images of his sons racing around before bedtime, which he shared was the actual origins of the tune. Metheny also excerpted songs from the unique recording he did with Charlie Haden called “Beyond the Missouri Sky,” which is fantastic ambient music for a lazy, rainy evening conversation over drinks, as well as from his collaboration with John Scofield, “I Can See Your House From Here.”
The show, like much of Metheny’s catalog, was heavy on details of his deft touch and signature style. It was a very laid back presentation that touched on a lot of Pat’s work over the years, while remaining in the pocket of mostly acoustic focused folk jazz.
His personal memories and stories associated with the songs were a refreshing new approach. He looped a bit in the middle to thicken the layers of melody, soloing a bluesy lead over a muted walking bass line. It was a nice evening that demonstrated Metheny’s dedication to the craft of guitar and revealed that, age 69, he’s still as passionate about playing as ever.