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Pat Metheny – Side-Eye NYC (V1.IV)

September 13, 2021
‎Modern Recordings

This album culls tunes from two shows on 9.11.19 and 9.12.19 at Sony Music Hall in NYC. I had the good fortune of seeing a show on this tour earlier that month at a club in Minneapolis (The Dakota). The band on the album is a trio of Metheny, jazz/R&B/hip-hop virtuoso keyboardist James Francies and Marcus Gilmore on drums (grandson of legendary drummer Roy Haynes). I will be seeing this line up again later this fall at a small theater in Minneapolis. So this is both a souvenir of a show I have seen and a pregame for my next Metheny show.

Per things I have read and heard Metheny say, The Side-Eye concept is two things: challenging himself to play and compose in fresh contexts and give exposure to young(er) musicians (Francies was 24 at the time of this recording and Gilmore was 32 – Metheny was 65). Half the tunes are from Metheny’s back catalog and half are new (and an Ornette Coleman cover as a cherry on the top).

At times, this is a traditional 60s jazz organ trio, but at other times it sounds like Metheny in one of his grand ensembles. This is due mainly to Metheny’s use of orchestrionics. “Orchestrionics” is the term that Metheny uses to describe a method of developing ensemble-oriented music using acoustic and acoustoelectric musical instruments that are mechanically controlled by solenoids and pneumatics triggered by Metheny’s guitar. It is also due to the rich palate of James Francies. Francies somehow is able to evoke Jaco via his keyboard bass lines. At the club show in Minneapolis I was basically “social distance” from James Francies with a direct view of his hands on the keyboard and I have no idea how he did it. I recall being dumbfounded at the time. Last but not least, Gilmore holds it all together – no simple task when there is so much going on – Metheny’s controlled chaos.

I am still digesting this album, but my initial response is I absolutely love it. It is a great sampling of the many textures of Metheny. Despite many different styles that he plays, every note is unmistakably Pat Metheny.


From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. I like the “traditional 60s organ trio” idea.

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