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Pat Metheny - Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up CD (album) cover


Pat Metheny


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.24 | 215 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars THE WAY UP may be the greatest masterpiece of prog ever written and performed by a prominent jazz musician and his band. In fact, it is precisely because of the unmistakable symphonic prog flavour of this album that Metheny was criticised in the authoritative PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ RECORDINGS.

Solemn, majestic orchestral passages (performed on electronic keyboards), ecstatic and meditative solos on at least ten types of guitar (acoustic and electric), joyful sound effects, dreamy trumpet solos, sudden tempo changes, romantic grand pianos, quirky synths, loads of fiddly bits: not since the 1970s has any musician come up with a true prog symphony as ambitious as this. And we're definitely talking about a 'symphony': Metheny and his keyboardist Lyle Mays have written one continuous 68-minute piece of music which can be divided into four movements.

What does it all mean? There are few hummable melodies, and even Pat's ecstatic solos sound somewhat less exuberant, less spontaneous than that legendary one on 'Are you going with me', one of his best (and earliest) exercises in the genre of symphonic fusion. But the sheer vigour and the natural pulse of the album (which was clearly inspired by Steve Reich's compositions) carries the listener away. If I had an i-pod, this is the first album I'd put on it, 'cause I can imagine no music better for jogging or for a one-hour cycle ride. Pardon the cliche, but THE WAY UP makes you feel as if the world is a glorious Technicolor movie!

Will fans of this website like the album? If such fans prefer their jazz to be 100% spontaneous, rough and avant-garde, probably not. But if they are into albums such as OMMADAWN, WAVES (by Jade Warrior) or LARK'S TONGUES IN ASPIC, they most probably will. I admit that THE WAY UP isn't rock. But it's truer to the classic prog spirit than any other recent album I know.

N. B. Although Metheny has recorded other proggy albums in the past 15 years or so (and quite a few 'proper' jazz albums as well), his 'symphonic' style was already in evidence in 1977, when he devised the dreamy, melancholic 'Sea Song' (unrelated to Robert Wyatt's superb piece with the same title) on WATERCOLORS, with more than a little help from star bass player Eberhard Weber, whom Pat has acknowledged as one of the main influences on THE WAY UP.

fuxi | 5/5 |


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