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Pat Metheny - The Way Up CD (album) cover

THE WAY UP

Pat Metheny

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.26 | 169 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars I have been an avid PAT METHENY listener and fan since the 70s (his work with JONI MITCHELL and GARY BURTON), and have pretty much every album he has every done, call the 1986 concert I attended of his one of the top five concerts I've ever attended, and consider him one of a very few masters of the art of combining technical prowess with emotional and melodic expression. And, yes, this one is one of his best albums--and one of two that truly fits among the masterpieces in the "progressive rock" catalog (the other being 1992's Secret Story). For long-time listeners, however, this album contains many "old" themes, tricks, and twists--so does not remain quite so fresh and exciting over its entire 68 minutes.

The opening "song"--entitled "The Way Up: Opening: does contain some "fresh" sounding slide guitar, beautiful acoustic guitar, and introduces the awesome syncopated guitar strum theme which makes the third song, "The Way Up: Part Two" one of the best prog songs I've ever heard.

The Way Up: Part One," the album's longest "song," offers up many old sounds, themes, and melody lines mixed with just enough new sounds, twists, themes, and melody lines (Pat playing more than one guitar lead at a time?in effect, dueling with himself!) to make this music very fresh and exciting. Plus, I must admit that the often-frenetic trumpet playing solos off of/against Pat's guitars offers a fascinating counterpoint to Pat's typically powerful yet melodic lead solos. The slowed down part after the 6:30 mark is a bit unexpected and out of place. And the song's central section is really pretty straightforward jazz, WES MONTGOMERY style (with some good jazz trumpet playing). It's the final, sensitive 5:30 of the song that start to bring one back to the prog fold. But then, voilà, "Part Two" comes on and I can't help myself but I play it over and over, astounded and hooked by the EBERHARD WEBER Following Morning intro section (first 2:15) and the 3:30 to 12:05 section in which Pat's syncopated and time-bending staccato guitar pizzicato's (which are later taken over by keyboards and percussion) lay foundation for one of the greatest 'barely controlled chaos' jam sessions I've ever heard. First Lyle's gentle, sensitive, inimitable keyboard work, followed by Pat and trumpeter Chong Vu going shit crazy! Then we have the wonderful 'calm after the storm' section with its wonderful harmonica lead. (And still the staccato pizzicato guitar-and-keyboard theme plays in the background). Trumpets, harmonica, catchy rhythm work. What treasures are bassist Steve Rodby and drummer Antonio Sanchez (though I worship former Gorup drummer Paul Wertico)!

"Part Three" returns to very familiar Pat Metheny Group territory--sounding very much like his 1980s productions--with its very strong Brazillian influence. Nothing really new here.

1. "The Way Up: Opening" 8/10 2. "The Way Up: Part One" 7/10 3. "The Way Up: Part Two" 10/10 4. "The Way Up: Part Three" 7/10

I'm very tempted to give this one five stars for the sake of "Part Two" which is, IMHO, one stellar achievement of musical expression. But I won't. (Though I may regret it later.) Still, if you've never heard the musical genius of Pat Metheny and company, start either here or with Secret Story. You won't be disappointed.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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