Posts Tagged ‘Pat Metheny’

New albums: Metheny and Ballard


Good start to the year with new releases from Pat Metheny, presenting a slightly augmented Unity Band, and drummer Jeff Ballard. Between the two of them, these albums present a wide array of styles and exceptional musicianship from everyone involved. In all honesty, I had not been anticipating either album with any real eagerness, but found myself very pleasantly surprised with both.

I gave a somewhat mixed review to the first Pat Metheny Unity Band album. The band, with Chris Potter on saxophone, Ben Williams on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums, is certainly very talented and it’s not hard to find impressive technical feats on that album, yet I found some of it surprisingly sterile and it had the tendency of taking it’s own conceits a bit too seriously. Pat has come out with a second Unity Band album, the frustratingly titled “Kin <–>”, with the new addition of multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi, which I find much more engaging than the first time around.

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2013 year in review

alex sipiagin

2013 was a good year for jazz. The highlights were many and diverse, with fabulous classic straight ahead releases and new fusion and funk influenced dates from artists big and small, including a fascinating archival release of early electric period Miles Davis. I struggled to pare to my inevitable best of list down to 10 items, which I suppose says something about the futility of these sorts of tasks. I enjoyed quite a lot of new stuff this year and no matter what your tastes are, you probably can find something to fit them too. Still, I feel compelled to present a year end list, partly because that seems to be what people do and partly because I enjoy the opportunity to rethink all the new music that’s come out this year. My list is after the break, in alphabetical order of first name.

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Some New Stuff: Harrell, Fly and Unity

There have been a number of recent albums worthy of a few comments. I suspect that Pat Metheny’s “Unity Band” which just came out is likely going to garner a lot of attention; just look at that band. Also recently come out is the Fly trio’s overdue new album “Year of the Snake“. In addition, I’d like to say a word or two about Tom Harrell’s most recent album, the aptly titled “Number Five“, which has been out a few weeks now. Chronologically, Harrell is a good place to begin.

“Number Five” is so named because it is the fifth album Tom has put out with this band, which I saw augmented with strings earlier this year. Tom is pretty dependable as both a musician and composer and as I believe I said when I saw him live, I love this band, and I’m glad to see it producing records. While maintaining a working band over a longer period of time has its advantages, it does suffer one potential pitfall in that the albums can start to sound alike as years go by. I found 2008’s “Prana Dance” utterly compelling; last year’s “Time of the Sun” was some how not as exciting. This time round, Tom and the band seem to be trying to mix the sound up just a bit and the result is a very satisfying full album.

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