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Pat Metheny - Travels (Pat Metheny Group) CD (album) cover

TRAVELS (PAT METHENY GROUP)

Pat Metheny

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In 1982, just before his contract with the ECM record label expired, Pat Metheny was given the full "double live album treatment" and surprised friend and foe with TRAVELS, which nicely represented his band's live show at the time. Back in those days, Pat scrupulously avoided anything that smelled like rock music and mostly limited himself to playing jazz guitar, but there are several extended compositions on the album ('Phase Dance' and 'San Lorenzo', for example) which are suffused with a truly symphonic grandeur. In contrast to some of Metheny's more recent experiments (such as THE WAY UP from 2005) such breezy pieces actually boast memorable (and indeed hummable!) melodies. As usual, Pat gets to pour his heart out in his extended solos, but his melodies also feature highly romantic piano and synthesizer workouts by Lyle Mays.

TRAVELS is full of delightful moments. Although percussionist Nana Vasconcelos provides a few wordless vocals, they are relatively subdued and a far cry from the soft-rock horrors that would blight Metheny's albums when he moved to the Geffen label. The most experimental composition on TRAVELS is 'As Falls Wichita, so Falls Wichita Falls', highly dramatic and close in spirit to certain real or imagined soundtracks, such as WHITE ROCK or MUSIC FOR FILMS.

Oh yes! There's also one piece included here which features a steady rock beat: the opening number, one of Metheny's perennial favourites. It concludes on a wonderfully ecstatic solo performed on Pat's trumpet-like guitar synthesizer.

So there you are: all the best moments from the first decade of Metheny's band in a single two-disc set. You couldn't get more "classic" than that.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#100743)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I purchased this album in the mid eighties just to proof that what my friend told me about this labum was true. He was right, indeed, because this is a good live album. I was actually not into Pat metheny's music because I did not think that the music would be as dynamic as Chick Corea, Al Di Meola or Return To Forever. But this album opened my eyes for wider styles of music that I could enjoy. I had to be patient with the music beacuse it moves relatively slowly. But with a couple of spins, I then got used to it and I could identify the subtleties of the music. One big problem that I had was most of the music was repetitive. Fortunately, the repetition was finally overcome by enjoying the synthesizer guitar by Pat Metheny. From the opening track "Are You Going With Me?" (9:19) to the next track " The Fields, the Sky" (7:46) Pat demonstrates his virtuosity in playing guitars with soft touch. The guitar fills and solo that he delivers are excellent and very enjoyable. The epic "Going Ahead-As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls" (16:22) has varied styles and moods and it demonstrates good composition and band's performance.

Overall, this is a good live album and would be acceptable for those of you who have a taste of jazz music because most of compositions are in jazz. It might not be the best album by Pat but this is a good one.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#127698)
Posted Friday, July 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you like the music of Pat Metehny Group, you cannot avoid this double live-album. As already noted, surely it marks the end of a long period, started witk " Watercolors" appeared in 1977; end that the successive "First Circle" will confirm, in spite of the presence of several inaltered ingedients in the music. Just before The Pat Meteheny Group had registered Offramp, that i consider one of the best studio album of the entire history of the Group, and from which "Travels" takes out the ouverture with "Are you going with me?". It's happened to me to go, maybe five or six times, to the Pat Metheny Group concert; i listened always to a performance of this tune and i have to confess that the version registered in Travels is really solid and Pat Metheny solo is very "happy". Travels is an album that provides a lot of opportunities: there is an opportunity to deeply estimate the double face of Pat Metheny inspiration, almost paradoxical between Milton Nascimento and Ornette Coleman; an opportunity to listen to many tunes ("The fields, the Sky", "Goodbye", for example) that appear only here (if am not mistaken, of course); and third (but not least) to appreciate "As Falls Wichita, So Falls wichita Fall", curtailed, it's true, of the long and suggestive coda, but that, I think, offer an exemplary specimen of the adventurous dialogue that Pat Merteheny and Lyle Mays succeeed in weaving. For this and for much more I was forced to omit because of my pedestrian english, the rate is 5 star.

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Send comments to Fargue (BETA) | Report this review (#151396)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
4 stars This double CD was my introduction to Pat Metheney in 1994. (Since then I have listened to many studio albums and have been irritated time after time of a particular sound he has used often in his music since the late 80's. That high-ish sound reminiscent of bad whispering between one's teeth has made it impossible for me to put Metheny on the top of my jazz/fusion artists, where he otherwise doubtlessly would be.) And so, Travels has also remained as the favourite Metheny album of mine.

Featuring only 11 tracks in 96 minutes, this live offering recorded over the U.S. tour has a hurryless, happy and laid-back atmosphere; performances are relatively extended but not boring. The mood switches smoothly from soft romantic ('Goodbye') to exciting feel of natural forces ('Wichita Falls' with its yodl-yodl- yodl-yodl voices). Travels also demonstrates how perfectly the band creates together the magic, instead of being mere backing players of a guitarist. Especially the role of Lyle Mays (keyb) is huge; he also has co- written most tracks.

Travels indeed is very acceptable introduction to Metheny, or to modern fusion-oriented jazz in general, if you already have a taste for moody groovy instrumental music played with a rock combo.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#165465)
Posted Tuesday, April 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Quite simply, this is ONE OF THE BEST live albums ever recorded in ANY and ALL genres.

I've been a fan of Pat Metheny since 1980, having seen the band live half a dozen times, and have fallen in and out of love with his music since that time. His "brazilian" and "smooth jazz" periods have somewhat tarnished his repuation as a serious, progressive musician. On the other hand, he's given the world so much GREAT music over the past 30 years that he has rightfully earned his place in the pantheon of the greats(McLaughlin, DiMeloa, Holdsworth etc). Fortunately, Travels captures The Group during, what hardcore Metheniacs consider, the band's most progressive period.

Travels is a MASTERPIECE of the highest order. It offers the listener a complete experience in free form, space, ambient and world jazz. While never being heavy or distorted and always relying on his trademark guitar synth, the music is ALWAYS progressive and quite angular at times.

The percussion and drumming(lots of cymbal work) are sublime. "Going Ahead-As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls" is one of the greatest space songs of all-time. Sixteen plus minutes of pure galactic joy! Try listening to it with headphones at the beach or while star gazing!

Even though the songs on Travels can be found on other CDs in their original, studio renditions, the versions on this live recording are BETTER than their studio counterparts; even the transcendental "Are You Going With Me" blows away the steril studio version.

I recommend this album to ALL progressive music fans. It's mellower than your modern day prog and nothing like the jazz fusion of the 1970s. Yet, it's equally intense and offers an emotional lift that I've found in few recordings.

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Send comments to wbiphoto (BETA) | Report this review (#230641)
Posted Saturday, August 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Often seeing a huge amount of smooth jazz products all around I believe there should be a market for them. And I even can imagine why people like it - this music is always easy accessible, pleasant and doesn't need too much attention from listener. You can listen it when cleaning a house or telling a long stories to your future girlfriend ( I heard many times that it helps to catalyze events dynamics).

So, if you are fan of such music, better listen best examples of it. Like this album.

Pat Metheny is quite controversial figure for me when speaking about progressive jazz fusion. He is great guitarist and have his nice moments, but largest amount of his work was openly oriented to more commercial targets. But, let say the truth, he is doing his job at very competent level.

So, this is first (double) live album in Metheny's discography. And it's live recording (during US-tour). There are many his most popular songs included, and smooth jazz live recording is never as hot as prog metal one. So, in fact it's more the collection of best songs from Pat's early times. But experienced year can hear the difference: same tunes are slightly different, not so sterile, and sound warmer there on this live recordings.

The music itself is Brazil/Latin smooth jazz, especially at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle of the recording became more serious and even contains few prog moments. Not too much, though. It doesn't destroy your dreamy (or even lazy) comfortable atmosphere.

Sound is airy (not strange - it's ECM recording), but extremely rounded and polished. But still doesn't sound as music for elevators. No connection with jazz-rock fusion of RTF, Weather Report or MO, just forget it.

So, if you're in a good mood, lazy summer evening on the terrace, watching sundown on seacoast, this music is good soundtrack for it. Or even if you hate all these lounge/acid jazz audio design for airport VIP zones, but don't want to be too radical, changing it, this album is a good choice. But if you're expecting "rock" component in your fusion, of just think that jazz shouldn't be too sweet and comfortable, better search in any other place.

Two and half rounded to 3.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#272067)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

Well if you're not impressed with the general lack of energy level of the PMG in studio and the systematic use of those horrible synclaviers, your hope was to go for a live album and Travels might have looked like a solution?. Yes I said "looked" and not "sounded", and indeed the live concert stuff sounds just like the studio stuff, which means energy-less and to be quite honest, just as boring and bore the exact same line-up. OK, ECM jazz was rarely my thing, but by the 80's, it was sounding a lot like elevator or supermarket music, and often the PMG was rather close to it, but maybe a tad more boring than that dreaded category. Released just after Offramp, it only contains the opening track Are You Going With Me, and to be honest, it's right up the studio alley it was recorded in?.. Boredom Impasse (that's not a track name, but the should-be title). The rest is really not much better, suffering from the use and abuse of those hate-worthy synclaviers plaguing that dreadful early 80's era. Indeed, can one get more sleep- inducing than the new-agey The Fields, The Sky

Only a few tracks do pull their aces timely in the game, and San Lorenzo is one of them, and the title track also seems to shake the general torpor of the set it had sunk itself into. What's always inducing in error in these kind of live endeavours is the recorded public applause and reactions, clearly in this case recorded in the crowd itself, rather than the soundboard, so it appears overzealously appreciative, probably inducing more excitement to the auditors than the music itself.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#635076)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 | Review Permalink

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