PAT METHENY — Pat Metheny Group : The Way Up (review)

PAT METHENY — Pat Metheny Group : The Way Up album cover Album · 2005 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
EatThatPhonebook
8/10

“The Way Up” is the essential Fusion album of the nearby future.

Who is the best jazz guitarist ever made? Who knows? I’ve always thought Pat Metheny was the guy. He has made over forty albums, and has been writing music and being on the road for all of his life basically. We see, especially in his first albums, an urgent sense of travel, of going in foreign places, exploring, being part of the world. So how is it that in the later years, and especially with “The Way Up”, his music feels more like a good-at-home listen? He’s certainly not tired of going around, I just saw him very recently live. Pat Metheny is one of those musicians that morphs and experiments a lot, to the point where even his philosophy can be altered, like it is here, or at least to me.

This musician has been quite an eclectic one, he’s gone from acoustic to Fusion to World music to Electronic, and always using his beloved guitar and billions of effects with it. “The Way Up” is the essence of Metheny’s Fusion side, meaning his more complex and cerebral type of music. This album has been so much praised by fans of progressive rock and fusion because it’s Pat’s most ambitious album, the one with most textures and sound layers, the one that more than every other has a care for every single detail, the one with the best and most modern production. The guitars, the keyboards, the vibraphone, the sax, the strings, everything is amazingly lush sounding. The structure of these four songs is extremely complex and thought-provoking, and the length of the tracks are for some almost too much, but not for the average prog or jazz listener.

“The Way Up” can be considered a single 60 minute epic piece, but it’s divided in three parts, and before these the opener, a brief sort of overture. I’ve never had such a hard time to follow an album, and I’ve listened to plenty of jazz. The twenty six minutes of “Part 1” are very easy to get lost in, but when you listen to it carefully, the solos, the calmer, acoustic parts are beautifully alternated with each other. This part is probably the best of the album, a brilliant piece of music. “Part 2” is generally a slower, quieter song, and has only a few points where it gets more lively, but it’s another great really good track. My least favorite has to go to the last part of the three, fifteen minutes long, the majority of the moments is quite good, but others are a little more boring. Not to forget the outstanding intro, only five minutes long but extremely dense.

A great effort for Pat Metheny who proves he can still create majestic albums even after more than thirty years. An essential release for anyone who is a jazz fan; this is the Jazz Fusion of the nearby future.
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