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Pat Metheny – Unity Band – Live at the Dakota, Minneapolis 9/5/12

September 9, 2012

The Dakota is yet another legendary Minneapolis music venue that I have somehow managed to avoid.  I was at the old location to see McCoy Tyner over 20 years ago.   I confessed to owner Lowell Pickett that this was my first visit to the new location (the Nicollet Mall location is going on 9 years) and he dryly responded “It is good you gave us a chance to work out the kinks before attending your first show.”

I first saw Pat Metheny at the Children’s Theater in 1978 (my best guess on the year) and I have been a major fan ever since.  Until this week, the Children’s Theater show was the smallest venue I had ever seen him in – this is a large theater kind of artist.  So it was an absolute thrill when I heard he was booked at the Dakota.

I love Pat’s latest band dubbed the Unity Band.  I also loved 80/81 and the common theme of these two albums is a sax player.  When Unity Band came out earlier this year it went into immediate heavy rotation.  Pat is for my money the most adventurous, yet accessible jazz artist of his generation.  So it is actually a rare treat for him to present his music is a conventional quartet.  Pat’s guitar and compositions are so perfect for a horn player it is crime he has cuts so few sides with horn players.

Pat started the show solo with his 42-string pikasso guitar.  He played a long introduction to “Come and See” (from the Unity Band album) and after a few minutes the full band joined in.  Reed man Chris Potter played a bass clarinet which is an amazing instrument.  The rest of the night it was pretty much tenor.

Next was a true thrill for me: “James” from 1981’s Off Ramp.  This is one of my all time favorite songs and it was great to hear it reinvented with Chris Patter’s tenor.

The group played another one from the Unity Band album: “This Belongs to You.”  This song started off soft and contemplative and then veered off into a completely burning hot Metheny solo.

I already mentioned how much I love 80/81 so it was a goose bump rush to hear one of the standouts from that album “The Bat.”

Next the band did what I assume was “Signals (Orchestrion Sketch).” That allowed Pat so show off his very cool Orchestrion stuff.  This get up is to hard to even explain – see Pat’s website for more details.

With that the night was almost over.  Pat came back for a solo encore.  He teased with a little Pat Metheny Group, but quickly pulled back and traveled more down a What’s It All About route.

Overall an outstanding evening.  I did not even get a chance to rave about drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Ben Williams.  Sanchez is wonderfully strong yet sensitive drummer.  Williams is new to me and he seems like a very up and coming cat. I just hope this band stays together for a while and releases more material – this is a fantastic line up that should appeal to both the serious and casual jazz fan.

Here is a great review from the City Pages.  Best line: The crowd: White, middle-aged, and rich. Tickets run $50 a pop, so what do you expect, a bunch of dirty-looking hipsters running around? That said, the crowd was into it and fun loving. Two horseshoe-haired men in front of us even went as far as spontaneously high-fiving during a couple of the more epic tension-and-release passages. Consider it moshing, Pat Metheny-style.

Here is a review from the Pioneer Press.


From → Music Reviews

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