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CD Review: Pat Metheny - What's It All About
June 21, 2011

What's It All About  Release Date 06/14/11 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Review By: Melissa Berry 

 

Pat Metheny's new CD - What's It All About is...What It's All About
 
 
Pat Metheny 's new album, What's It All About, is all about musical interpretations, which create a narrative for each and every song on the album. Because this is an album of cover songs, the material is known to everyone and for different reasons. Maybe the song evokes a time in the listener's life, a familiar movie, another album, another artist, or just another time. What's It All About only adds to existing memories of these songs.
 

In talking about his uniquely personal album, Metheny explains, "This is a straight solo baritone guitar record (except instrument changes as noted); edits, but no overdubs." It's the "but, no overdubs", the use of a forty-two string guitar, six-string guitar, nylon string guitar, the various sophisticated tunings of these instruments, and his considerable finger- picking skills and complicated solos, that provide the inspiration for the re- interpretation these classic songs.
 
Considering the eclectic choice of material, it's fair to say that Metheny has chosen songs that must have had a great influence on him in his formative years as a musician. Although numerous artists have covered the tunes, the results here are very personal.
 

The songs and interpretations range from rock, folk and jazz and the qualities from being, delicate, ethereal and thoughtfully sophisticated. There are delicate renditions of The Beatles' "And I Love Her", and Jobim's Girl From Ipanema. "The Sound of Silence" is accentuated by Asian elements created by using a pentatonic scale with each note carefully and artfully accentuated. The Stylistics' R&B "Betcha By Golly, Wow" is given a jazz makeover with Metheny's top notch talent as an arranger and guitarist being show cased. Some of the songs, such as "Slow Hot Wind" and "Alfie”, are stripped to the bare bone elements allowing the simplicity and honesty of the melody to gently drift through the air - no lyrics required.
 

Although sometimes verging into "smooth jazz" territory, Metheny completely changes tone and mood with "Pipeline, first recorded by the 1960's group The Chantey's. The original had lightning fast guitar riffs and overall spooky tone that signaled the emergence of "surf rock," later perfected by such groups as The Challengers. Metheny creates his own mood for the familiar old favorite tune creating a mellow mood for the most callous of hearts. Maintaining the original's rhythmic guitar work, Metheny puts a different spin on it with his six-string acoustic guitar work demonstrating how rock can overlap jazz.
 

What's It All About reminds us of Pat
Metheny's jazz roots going back to "Still Life (Talking)" from 1987 which contains the unforgettable "Last Train Home". Metheny's skill in re-imagining familiar material, then using the original melody as only the starting point for his making his own creation using his own complexly simple style leaves us with his special brand of "jazz comfort" food, and it's nice to be dining with him.

 

 

              

              

                                            

         

 

         

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