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Pat Metheny - Watercolors CD (album) cover

WATERCOLORS

Pat Metheny

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.13 | 56 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Pat Metheny is one of the world's best-selling jazz musicians. He must be the one jazz guitarist whose albums are likely to appeal to lovers of symphonic prog - particularly his epics IMAGINARY DAY and THE WAY UP.

Considering the embryonic Pat Metheny Group recorded WATERCOLORS as long ago as 1977, it's remarkable that most of the characteristics of Pat's definitive style are already in place.

First of all, you'll recognise those typically joyful and breezy melodies Pat's band is known for ("Watercolors", "Lakes", "River Quay"); they are full of the leader's crystalline solos and Lyle Mays' tuneful piano excursions. (The main difference, here, with Pat's later experiments is that he sticks to the sound of the traditional jazz guitar, and there's no trace of wordless vocals or latin-inspired soft jazz - thank heaven!)

Secondly, Pat's lyrical solo experiments, played with lots of arpeggios on harpguitar and acoustic guitar, and obviously inspired by folk music, are also present ("Icefire", "Legend of the Fountain").

However, the most prophetic track on this album must be the ten-minute "Sea Song", which clearly foreshadows the style of albums such as SECRET STORY and THE WAY UP. Although "Sea Song" is performed by no more than four musicians, it has a symphonic feel to it, which it owes particularly to the extraordinary contribution of Eberhard Weber, who plays its main melody on his custom-designed (bodiless) double bass (using a bow). Indeed, "Sea Song" is almost overwhelming in its grandeur - and I find it fascinating that Pat here sounds as if he's guesting on one of his own compositions (as is Lyle Mays).

So let me take this opportunity to briefly pay tribute to Eberhard Weber. Metheny must have got to know the German virtuoso when, just before he turned twenty, he started playing alongside him in Gary Burton's band. Together they recorded two wonderful albums, RING and PASSENGERS, the first of which has the extraordinary lineup of vibraharp (Gary Burton himself), two guitars (Metheny and Mick Goodrick), drums (Bob Moses) and two basses (Weber and Steve Swallow). I highly recommend those albums to anyone who enjoys Pierre Moerlen's Gong, or prog-fusion in general!

As for Weber's own oeuvre, everything he does is worth hearing, but his most progressive album must be YELLOW FIELDS, which features Eberhard himself on bass, Charlie Mariano on soprano sax, Jon Christensen on drums and Rainer Brueninghaus on acoustic and electric pianos. (Brueninghaus uses mellotron, too - which gives some of YELLOW FIELDS' compositions a truly lush and gorgeously majestic feel.)

fuxi | 4/5 |

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