Pat Methany: Orchestrion

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Pat Metheny
LABELS: Nonesuch
WORKS: Orchestrion
PERFORMER: Pat Metheny (guitar, orchestrion)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79847-3

Advertisement

Here’s an extraordinary project that will divide fans, musicians and critics: super guitarist Pat Metheny fronting a modern day jazz orchestrion. The idea of musical automata dates from the late 19thcentury and so-called player pianos. Metheny has gone a step further by creating a large ensemble of programmable acoustic instruments that includes keyboards, kit drums, vibes and even tuned bottles – all played via switches and pneumatics.

The Mephistophelean Pat Metheny controls all the inputs and overdubs and then leans in with his characteristic improvised lines. As a setting for the superstar’s impeccable and effusive melodic invention, the electro-mechanical orchestrion is always on message. Because he’s programmed his accompanists he has the perfect band in that he always knows what they are going to do.

Advertisement

But here is a potential problem: that orchestrionics makes the performance too perfect, too relentless, compared to one with sentient sidemen. Perhaps the answer is to concentrate on listening as if this is a solo performance. Which it is. Garry Booth