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Pat Metheny - The Way Up CD (album) cover

THE WAY UP

Pat Metheny

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.27 | 167 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 'The Way Up' - Pat Metheny Group (9/10)

Widely considered to be one of the best Jazz guitarists of the past three decades, Pat Metheny has been an influential force in the fusion world for years. Despite having had such a long career, the man and his supporting musicians still maintain a vivid fanbase and continue to make powerful music. While most artists produce their defining artistic acheivement early in their career and begin to fall into a rut of mediocrity as they age, Metheny's Grammy winning record 'The Way Up' proves to be his magnum opus. Jaw dropping musicianship, mixed with the group's attention to fine detail make this out to be a masterpiece in every respect, and one of the best Jazz pieces to come out of the new millenium.

Broken into four tracks or 'parts' simply for the sake of CD navigation, 'The Way Up' is in fact, an hour long running composition. To that end, the album flows together seamlessly; with little to no breaks in between the music to tarnish the music's cohesion. The sound here is probably best described as 'soft jazz' with a progressive edge. While the two styles sound like they don't go together at all, Metheny and company find a penchant at adding a dose of caffeine to the otherwise background music style to create something exciting. Described by the band as a 'way to showcase their improvisation and dynamic,' 'The Way Up' is endowed with hefty portions of both.

One of the greatest qualities of the music is it's ability to switch effortlessly between a quiet, laid back section and a rapidfire burst of virtuoso proportion. There are certainly parts that are not so impressive (at times even getting a bit mundane) but they work magically as part of the overall work; the less active sections only intensify the energy that comes afterward. In terms of improvisation, it actually works out to be both one of the album's greatest assets, and one of it's biggest detractors. Much of the soloing work (particularly Metheny's guitar playing itself) while being highly skilled and pleasant, ends up feeling like it doesn't have any real melody to back it up with. While there are themes and musical motifs that recur throughout the piece, this is not a piece that will grab you for it's catchiness and melodious sensibilities.

While the album might be sold on the household name of Pat Metheny, the rest of the musicians shine just as brightly as the main man himself, at times even outdoing the leader. Each musician (particularly the pianist) is a master at what they do; each note rings with the sort of feeling that most musicians fail to realize is so important for this sort of music. In any case, 'The Way Up' is a gorgeous masterpiece that has made my jaw drop. The sheer amount of detail to the work's art lends plenty of listens and replay value. While the lack of catchy 'melodies' and conventional structure might put some off from this, it is a phenomenal piece of music and to date, the most exciting Jazz Fusion record I have had the pleasure to listen to.

Conor Fynes | 5/5 |

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