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Pat Metheny - The Way Up CD (album) cover

THE WAY UP

Pat Metheny

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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fuxi
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.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#95695)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The long song format can easily turn a lot of people off, even veteran progheads who are used to side long epics. I know that the thought of sixty-eight minutes of jazz with only three pauses for breath may be sound straining, but Metheny does not strain his listeners. Do not shy away from this fearing a tediously towering Topographic Oceans type of album. This album doesn't require your full attention for all sixty-eight minutes. In fact, there are many liquid, milky, psychedelic moments that will make this album easily to lose oneself in, or even fall asleep to (at some moments). These softer, near-ambient moments balance quite evenly with the upbeat, colourful, cosmic jazz that occupies the remainder of the disc. Fast, precise, and cymbal-heavy drumming are prominent; hypnotizing acoustic guitars, spacey piano, and really intricate rhythms all make up The Way Up.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#105092)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Pat's most audacious work yet: a near-70-minute piece filled with everything we love and then some, even making ample use of his 42-string guitar. This album is dazzling, filled with complex arrangements, soothing interludes, stimulating grooves and truly never gets dull; it also never goes astray from the general theme of the album, with an ever-present aura about it, keeping in Metheny's traditional jazz sound that is still instantly recognizible and the recurring themes. Here we also have the introduction of a harmonicat. The harmonica parts are quite pleasent, and many will find this implimentation of jazz harmonica pretty fresh. All the players are spot on. It is very expressionistic and colorful. Metheny and Mays' cylinders were certainly all being fired with the writing and recording of this masterpiece. It may very well be what they've been trying to accomplish all these years, and if I'm not mitaken, their finest hour yet! Metheny's already got plenty to boast in his catalog, but none like this one.

Despite it's length, it really is a pleasent listen. The easiest a tough listen can be. It's just so relaxing and warm, you can't help but keep it going. This disc has been in my car for over a year at this point, and it has not yet left once!

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#105098)
Posted Monday, January 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Incredible effort!!Pat become Prog!! The last work of the PMG is the most audacious and interesting by the 1989,expecially from the album "Letter from Home".Except "Secret Story",that it has much things in common with this album,"The Way Up" is the zenith of creation that a Pat's fan could imagine.Very complex arrangements,often made with the Pikasso acoustic guitar,smooth interludes,cool guitar loops pilotated by the Synthclavier are only the first part of this outstanding pie..but the ice on the cake is the part one of TWU:during 26 minutes,this epic is the present that i signed every christmas on the wish list,and Pat give it to me,not in Christmas,but few later.Listen very carefully,this is one of a kind disc,and more than one,two times,three times,100 times!!Let's Jazz!!

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Send comments to Kill Fede (BETA) | Report this review (#116948)
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It doesnt take a lot of time for this piece of music to show you just how special it really is. Things get good really fast and they stay that way until the end.

I've never heard Jazz structured the way this is, it's very interesting and they pull it off and make it seem easy.

The composition is unique and flawless for the most part. It stays rythmically and melodically compelling without ever becoming a burden to focus on.

I truly enjoy this album every time I play it.

I would also highly recommend picking up the live DVD performance of The Way Up.

5 stars without a doubt.

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Send comments to Matt Dickens (BETA) | Report this review (#127785)
Posted Saturday, July 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Pat Metheny is simply the greatest jazz musician still making music. The fact that he has made one of his best albums this late in his career goes to show that he is still getting better and progressing and not tiring or falling into irrelevance like many musicians do after decades of making music. The whole thing is basically the same piece and is some of the most ambitious jazz ever recorded. There aren't many memorable parts, but the music is just such a pleasure to listen to and you'll be at the end of the album before you know it. This is one of the best albums of the 21st century and I recomend it to anyone interested in music beyond what is played on the radio.

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Send comments to King Crimson776 (BETA) | Report this review (#152124)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I just purchased this album about a couple weeks ago and i can not stop listening to it. I have always hared of Pat Metheny , so i decided to get of copy of The Way Up, an album that has 4 songs and each song is very lengthy, except for the opener. This is such a creative album. this album displays some amazing musicianship. Of course This is Pat's band and he brings some great musicians along with him like drummer Antonio Sanchez and Lyle Mays on piano/keyboards. To me each track is something not to overlook, but probably my two favorite tracks are part 2 and part 3 which is the only track with some vocals. If you looking for some real music to hear check this out, but let me tell you Pat Metheny's music is not like any of the other fusion bands that i listen to, his music is much more mellow and the music created on this album is beautiful. A jazz masterpiece 5 stars, for anyone who is fan of great music

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Send comments to JROCHA (BETA) | Report this review (#153964)
Posted Monday, December 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. I'll admit right off the top i'm not a huge Pat Metheny fan, I find a lot of his albums a little on the "light" side for my tastes. Having said that his 1980's release with Lyle Mays "As Falls Wichita..." is my favourite from him, it's magical. So hearing that Lyle Mays and Pat teamed up for this record, and reading all the high praise, well I just had to check this out. The two negatives for me include the almost 70 minute length of this recording, and also how light it is (surprise). There are a lot of positives on this one though. I must admit as well that a lot of this music is over my head. "Intricate" is a word that kept coming into my mind, and the way these guys "interplay" is simply jaw-dropping. I smiled when I read a reviewer on another site who said it's the kind of music that is perfect for a drive in the country.That's exactly how I listened to it today on the way home. Picture me driving down this road with forests closing in on each side of the road, no houses.The sunlight causing shadows and reflections as I looked at all the green landscape. I love listening to music when I drive, especially music like this where you need to concentrate to understand and enjoy it. And while this is jazzy it's also quite symphonic.

"Opening" is just that a 5 minute intro track. It opens quietly and builds. Piano and drums are prominant before a minute. Some trumpet and lots of guitar. As I said earlier there's so much going on, great interplay. "Part One" is the longest track at 26 1/2 minutes. It opens with a nice relaxed sound then it kicks in before 2 minutes then calms right down. Tasteful guitar 3 1/2 minutes in then it kicks back in after 5 minutes. The tempo continues to shift. It's very jazzy 14 1/2 minutes in. I really like the sound 23 1/2 minutes in.

"Part Two" opens with acoustic guitar and piano. Bass, trumpet and cymbals join in. A fuller sound 2 1/2 minutes in before we get a calm 2 minutes later. Harmonica comes in during the second half of the song as piano comes and goes. "Part Three" is all so intricate once it gets going. Great sound before 9 minutes. A dead calm follows before the acoustic guitar seems to rise and fall and we get some atmosphere too. Great way to finish the album.

If your into lighter and mature jazzy soundscapes then this is a must. A nice album that i'm far from understanding yet.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#231438)
Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Fio
5 stars Stunning is the best word that I can think of to describe THE WAY UP. Absolutely Stunning. Right from the get-go this album tells you why its one of the best pieces of progressive jazz ever recorded. The main melody could be one of my favorite moments in all music. That melody alone is worth buying this record. The structure here is amazing...it's classical in a sense and yet the musicians are still in an improvisational setting. Pat's sense of dynamics and melody are just wonderful. Lots of great instrumentation on this album. An interesting touch is the harmonica which gives it a very folky feel. The execution on this album is flawless.There are a few videos of the band playing this live and it's jaw dropping. This is a piece of music that takes a while to absorb. Repeated listens are necessary to truly realize the magnificence of this album. THE WAY UP is a masterpiece of progressive music and one of the greatest works of modern jazz.

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Send comments to Fio (BETA) | Report this review (#242963)
Posted Sunday, October 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A Progressive Soft Jazz Masterpiece

What?!&? Without a doubt, this album seems a strange choice for the best album of the last ten years or more. And yet, as I list the great music of the last decade, it is difficult to come up with an album that aspires to such heights and then surpasses them. In researching this review, I found the following quote from Pat Metheny. Of all the arguments on PA about the definition of prog, this quote captures some of the essence of what we love like I've never read before.

"At the core of THE WAY UP, in some ways it's a protest record for us. It's a record I think that, that represents our desire to reconcile complexity in the face of a culture that rejects complexity, and to honor the impulse that we have to understand things through nuance and detail in the face of a culture that is more and more, year by year rejecting nuance and detail. To me the meaning of the title, THE WAY UP is our way of saying that simplification and ignorance and lack of awareness is not going to lead in the right direction and particularly in the context of American culture, that kind of lowest common denominator-type of cultural gravity is beginning to carry with it a weight that is the weight of the majority and we are resisting that with every ounce of our being."

Before going into my long line of superlatives, I must make something clear. This is Pat Metheny. The master of contemporary soft jazz guitar. THE WAY UP is still, at its core, based on Pat Metheny's signature sound(s). There are some who will upon first listen will immediately cringe "Muzak!!!" and run away long before even finishing this work once. What's more, despite the fact that the sharp edges come with a cushion, this music is so complex that after 10-20 listens I'm only just starting to settle into what the work is really about.

Many jazz purists hate this album for the very reasons people on this site will love it. Complex syncopations, dissonance, interweaving written lead lines, exotic instrumentation, all the trappings of prog are here. Only the Lamb and TFTO shoot for the moon like this record, and neither hit target as consistently. There is no free form jamming here at all. Melodic themes and rhythmic ideas run through the work, both during the improvised parts and the lengthy composed sections. Though there are multiple solos, they always work within the structure of the composition.

THE WAY UP is ambitiously complex in composition, resembling a classical symphony more than any jazz record. Unlike his songwriting on any work before, this album was the result of Metheny and longtime collaborator Lyle Mays sitting together in a room for six weeks laboriously planning first the general ideas, and then the specifics of the piece. Armed with a shared vision and a two volume treatise on voice leading, the two integrated the styles of their entire careers into a shared vision that then evolved in the studio. As ideas came into reality, the two reworked, recruited specific musicians and finally produced their true magnum opus.

The record is really one 68 minute piece which for track purposes is divided into 4 sections. Sonically the album is meant to be one sonic experience but has more than four distinct parts. The first track (Opening) is a 5 minute tour de force with odd timing that is going to grab the prog fan's attention immediately. Metheny plays at least 4 guitars on this track alone, and Mays also employs multiple tonalities all calling and responding in off time to create one of the most beautifully complex passages ever.

The piece really is an exposition, for the rest of the work spends a much great amount of time building and releasing, spanning an enormous amount of musical territory. The amount of art packed into this work is mind-blowing. By Part two, the music is allowed to slowly evolve into a controlled chaos that would be completely avant if not held down by the grooving hand of drummer Antonio Sanchez. Somehow, Sanchez is able to make insane syncopations still move, enlivening what could have been a cold piece of calculation into a living piece of beauty. While all the players are masters at peak performance level, Sanchez is the one who leaves me aghast.

Reading back, I realize I'm just using different over the top exclamations to say THE WAY UP is phenomenal and you should get it. Certainly, I advise virtually everyone try out the record. There are some great live renditions available on youtube, and samples abound. You'll know after listening to "Opening" what awaits if you're willing to dive in. It takes a number of listens before the full work is going to sink in, but it's well worth it.

One more delicious quote from the Metheny interview on the album.

"You know, jazz is still under discussion and I hope to keep it that way."

5+/5 stars.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#243372)
Posted Tuesday, October 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This Pat Metheny's album has it's position always on the top of jazz fusion albums (on PA). And this album is really good. But...

Pat Metheny is great master of soft fusion guitar, and step by step his discography became a huge (and quality) collection of well balanced comfortable professional soft fusion. This album isn't exception, even more - this album is concentrated Metheny's sound of some last years.

First of all - this album is strongly based on contemporary jazz music ( with big portion of post-bop as well). Well played and well rounded, it represents quality chamber soft fusion with all components you're expecting: some mellow melodies, great instruments interplays, no soloing, very balanced warm sound, etc. And to tell truth - this job is done at the highest level!

Music is as complex as it should be to avoid being boring, and as simple as it should be don't destroy your great dinner on sunny terrace. I can listen it again and again ( never boring), but at the same time listening to it I can do plenty of other home jobs (including reading). For sure, it's mostly question of taste - I usually don't like so comfortable and safe listening, with zero experimentation, new sounds, but even with retro soft fusion smell. OK, musicians use some progressive soft/symphonic rock attributes (mostly for making their music more comfortable). Even from softer wing of fusion I always expect some energy and rock elements. This album is wrong place for such expectations.

But - if you're a fan of excellent pleasant and comfortable breeze sound, this album is for you.

My rating - 3+.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#283821)
Posted Friday, May 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"The Way Up" is the essential Fusion album of the nearby future.

Who is the best jazz guitarist ever made? Who knows? I've always thought Pat Metheny was the guy. He has made over forty albums, and has been writing music and being on the road for all of his life basically. We see, especially in his first albums, an urgent sense of travel, of going in foreign places, exploring, being part of the world. So how is it that in the later years, and especially with "The Way Up", his music feels more like a good-at-home listen? He's certainly not tired of going around, I just saw him very recently live. Pat Metheny is one of those musicians that morphs and experiments a lot, to the point where even his philosophy can be altered, like it is here, or at least to me.

This musician has been quite an eclectic one, he's gone from acoustic to Fusion to World music to Electronic, and always using his beloved guitar and billions of effects with it. "The Way Up" is the essence of Metheny's Fusion side, meaning his more complex and cerebral type of music. This album has been so much praised by fans of progressive rock and fusion because it's Pat's most ambitious album, the one with most textures and sound layers, the one that more than every other has a care for every single detail, the one with the best and most modern production. The guitars, the keyboards, the vibraphone, the sax, the strings, everything is amazingly lush sounding. The structure of these four songs is extremely complex and thought-provoking, and the length of the tracks are for some almost too much, but not for the average prog or jazz listener.

"The Way Up" can be considered a single 60 minute epic piece, but it's divided in three parts, and before these the opener, a brief sort of overture. I've never had such a hard time to follow an album, and I've listened to plenty of jazz. The twenty six minutes of "Part 1" are very easy to get lost in, but when you listen to it carefully, the solos, the calmer, acoustic parts are beautifully alternated with each other. This part is probably the best of the album, a brilliant piece of music. "Part 2" is generally a slower, quieter song, and has only a few points where it gets more lively, but it's another great really good track. My least favorite has to go to the last part of the three, fifteen minutes long, the majority of the moments is quite good, but others are a little more boring. Not to forget the outstanding intro, only five minutes long but extremely dense.

A great effort for Pat Metheny who proves he can still create majestic albums even after more than thirty years. An essential release for anyone who is a jazz fan; this is the Jazz Fusion of the nearby future.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#289024)
Posted Saturday, July 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#294665)
Posted Sunday, August 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars When I'm not particularly enthused by an album I like to argue that with more then just the "it's not really my thing" excuse. But in case of Metheny's The Way Up it will be hard to find any faults with the music. The inspiration flies high, the musicianship is tight, dynamic, virtuoso even but never indulgent. It abstains from soloing and it's always purposeful. Nice! It's just ... well ... a bit too nice and safe for my taste.

The band plays a type of fusion that is more conservative then the wild and exciting stuff released in the 70-75 period. The melodies are kept mellow and agreeable, never dark, challenging or unsettling, making sure not to intrude on the coziness of your living room.

More problematic is that the music is never explorative, not in finding new sounds, nor in harmonic structures or new forms. It all goes back too much to the jazz of the 50's, abstaining from the free-jazz influences that marked the fusion of the early 70's that I tend to get excited about. I also miss the mysterious atmosphere of some of his older works such as the Watercolors album. The reason is probably the melodious emphasis of the music on The Way Up. Watercolors was mostly more abstract and suggestive.

It's a good album for sure, building a nice easy going loungey atmosphere that will appeal a lot to you if you prefer your music to be esthetic and pleasant. But by the look of it I prefer the stuff with rougher edges and more intense atmospheres.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#297119)
Posted Thursday, September 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
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, voilŕ, "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 [&*!#] 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.

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#299039)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
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5 stars The way up into the beauty of sound

Pat Metheny is well known for being a master of jazz fusion. Through a career spanning nearly 40 years, he has written and released many albums, recorded with numerous groups of talented musicians, and released some of the tastiest and innovative fusion out there. The Way Up may be his most innovative, progressive, and delicious album yet. The album, comprised of a single, 68 minute long composition broken into four parts, is easily my favorite progressive jazz song out there, and its length only adds to my love of the music. The melodic quality, the crispness of the music, the incredible up-down feel of the flow of the song and so much more make this album (and song) just an incredible experience. Whether you are riding the waves of one of Metheny's many spectacular solos of or the incredible atmosphere the 'toy' instruments make throughout the song, this is truly a special release, and is well deservedly a masterpiece of jazz fusion.

Opening slowly and with an almost ambient feel, the song quickly accelerates into a swinging and sweeping bop-like song. With an incredible flow and superb communicative feeling about it, this music is truly sublime as you ride the sonic roller coaster of this man's composition. The song has a huge amount of improvisation, and the guys who make up this spectacular band have no trouble weaving in and out of chord progressions and sections like no one's business. The main theme, returned to once and a while, is a spectacularly beautiful passage, worthy of entrance in the famous fake books of jazz charts.

Whether you are experiencing the beauty of Metheny guitar tone, the nonchalant effortlessness of the piano, or the sweeping grandeur of a trumpet, this entire composition has some of the most beautiful moments in all of jazz fusion. The beauty associated with the flow of this albums almost breath-like flow, with a crescendo as the music breathes in and a sublime decrescendo and deceleration as the music exhales is absolutely spectacular. The incredible movement between the parts as the themes change and the music is revived as one might begin to get 'bored' is wonderful as well, with some wonderful instrumentation insinuated all throughout the album. Overall, this album is just supremely beautiful, in composition, in form, and in virtually every aspect of its being.

I've said pretty much everything. I love this album. It truly is spectacular. The whole way through, the composition never fails to impress me, even 67 minutes in. Knee deep in Metheny's musical genius, I really can't see how anyone could not love this music. I would highly recommend this album to any fan of jazz fusion. It truly is a pure masterpiece. 5 stars.

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Send comments to Andy Webb (BETA) | Report this review (#448260)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

Really, I can understand all the fuss about this album. I mean, is all about ambition, is not it? The crowning achievement of a long career, over thirty years as one of the best jazz guitarists of our times. And then, in 2005, Pat Metheny decided to make this magnificent work, which mixes fusion, soft jazz, and many scholarly influences of progressive rock, all in one song of 68 minutes.

Yes, reader. 68 minutes. Ah, but do not worry, it is subdivided into four sections (like a true epic prog or a symphony) ... whose durations are respectively: 5, 26, 20 and 15 minutes. So in the end the music is great anyway. But, unlike other epics that feel just like a bunch of individual songs without a connection "real" (see The Incident), here's a real flow between the sections, so that the feeling of being up listening to a single song is not lost when going from one section to another. This is one of the greatest triumphs of pat on the Way Up.

But that's not all. All interaction between the musicians ... This is beyond my comprehension. There is no one in the background. Unlike typical guitarists exhibitionists who take the glory for himself, Pat Metheny really gives space to each of his companions to have their moment. There harmonica solos, trumpet, guitar, piano, drums ... Like I said, no musicians in the background (this musical construction reminds me of Steve Hackett, who always took a similar stance in his albums, allowing space other musicians).

And do not think the executors of The Way Up are disqualified, oh no! These are brilliant, masters at what they do. Starting by the Pat Metheny. As he plays a variety of guitars, one realizes how much is diverse. But no deadly riffs (which is not even a feature of jazz): everything runs so brilliantly sweated and melodious. Carefully he gets quieter passages (which are where members have the opportunity to shine in their respective moments) sections with more bombastic, and even they do not have anything explosive. Soft jazz, after all! I must also mention the work of keyboardist Lyle Mays, and contributing much to the overall sound of the album. There are some passages of piano here that make me shiver. Also Steve Rodsby, which alternates between the low (I admire his moment with the fretless bass) and cello. There are several other musicians to mention here, but I must mention the drummer Antonio Sanchez. He does the typical work that I so admire in jazz, the ability to go beyond the simple compass to explore sounds innovative and highly complicated, the kind of thing you simply can not learn, that comes from within your soul. Although he does a moderate job and nothing bombastic, convenient to the sound of the album is truly a highlight.

4.5 stars, rounded up. A wonderful work, beautiful to hear, able to emerge and cause sensations such deep impressions as positive. He represents everything I love about jazz and was looking to enjoy; effort and cohesive integration between the musicians, the ability to challenge and go beyond the commonplace, explore new sounds, new possibilities. Congratulations to Pat Metheny and his band mates to achieve such glory.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#919406)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars On The Way Up, Pat Metheny - and, of course, the Pat Metheny Group - displays an exceptional mastery of a wide range of jazz fusion styles. The album slips in more jazz-leaning moments reminiscent of early fusion works by Miles Davis or Weather Report, more firey playing following the precedent set by the likes of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and moments of playfulness which remind me of Canterbury scene groups like Hatfield and the North or National Health.

That said, this shouldn't be mistaken for a box-ticking exercise in nostalgia; the album has a thoroughly modern sound, reminiscent of recent work by the likes of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, which recontextualises jazz fusion techniques into new compositional structures. In terms of tone and aesthetic, things are generally more mellow and gentle than the harder-edged fusion outfits of the 1970s - again, a point the album has in common with works from the Canterbury scene - so if you're after something with more bite it might not appeal, but otherwise it's an excellent choice for jazz fusion listeners who want to convince themselves that there's still something novel to be done in the genre.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#929265)
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars More than two decades ago, a good friend, a lover of Jazz, recommended me to listen to Pat Metheny Group. The Jazz is not my greatest delight.

Get Still Life and later We Live Here, different and fairly enjoyable albums. So also heard others with good feelings.

But The Way Up is great, magnificence. Very progressive, energetic and imaginative. Peaceful and virtuous. Elegant and dynamic. Nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking.

The music goes through different landscapes, and never bored.

The melody of Opening, which is repeated in Part One, is great. Part One will grow from that tune to just over six minutes. Then Pat acoustic guitar starts another section that crosses different transformations to the end.

Part Two is sublime, with an overwhelming end. And Part Three begins with the classic sound the group. From the tenth minute, the music moves in a quiet and relaxing sound, which is diluted slowly.

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Send comments to sinslice (BETA) | Report this review (#940369)
Posted Saturday, April 06, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I am not the hugest fan of smooth jazz but I can take it in small doses. The likes of Kenny G, The Rippingtons and their ilk are ok, but I generally prefer more of a bite in my jazz tastes with my favorites being the most adventurous musical souls. PAT METHENY alone and with his GROUP rarely manage to excite me and always tread lightly upon the musical paths they embark upon. Such the case can be said for this release THE WAY UP which seems to be universally hailed as their best album and judging by the handful of METHENY releases I have listened to so far, I would have to agree with that statement. Yes, this is still smooth jazz, but this is progressive smooth jazz!

This album was inspired by both the works of Steve Reich and Eberhard Weber, both of whom METHENY has worked with. This album is designed to be one long album long track that reaches just over 68 minutes in length but broken into 4 tracks only for navigational purposes. The sounds on here are very typical for METHENY, of what i've heard so far, but what is very different from other releases is that the compositions are much more complex than anything i've encountered from this group so far. They master the art of extending pieces and exploring variations on themes and add interesting solos as well.

Although this still reminds me of fluffy unsalted and unbuttered popcorn with cotton balls in the clouds in a place where calmness and serenity suffocate any remote threat of surprise and angst, the fact is that when the compositions are interesting as on this album, then I have to admit that the smoother and calmer side of the jazz-fusion spectrum can be quite interesting indeed. Although this will probably never rank up there in the top ranks of my all time treasured albums, this certainly has a worthy spot in my collection to fire up every now and again simply to ride the jazz-fusiony ethers that are as light and fluffy as a light breezy spring shower raining pillows and marshmallows on the fertile lands where only white bunnies and fuzzy easter chicks roam.

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1147624)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2014 | Review Permalink

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