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Pat Metheny - Pat Metheny Group: Speaking Of Now CD (album) cover


Pat Metheny

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars Speaking of Now contains the same mystical and organic beauty as an aesthetic tale of futuristic space travel between alien worlds: each diverse, aloof, yet strangely homey and oddly familiar. Haunting in the most cosmic of fashions, delicately spacey, and wholly attaching: Pat Metheny's Speaking of now is one of the finer jazz albums ever released, and among my personal favourites.

I find this to be Metheny strongest and most diverse album. It combines amazing musicianship, with beautiful compositions - compositions which grow more and more emotionally clinging with every listen. It is phenomenally captivating, and just plain good! I fail to believe anyone has given this album a full listen and walked away disliking it. It is absolutely astonishing on an intellectual and a very personal level, and simply enjoyable to listen to. It makes a world of its own. When you listen to this album, you aren't on earth anymore.

As I've mentioned before, Metheny is truly amazing at carving imagery and making very gripping atmospheres with his music, but not as explicitly as some of the more blunt psychedelic or krautrock bands. The psychedelic element arises naturally, and has a very organic timbre. This time around, it's even stronger. Some proggies (particularly young generation proggies) can get bored of a lot of jazz, and find most of it tedious. Pat Metheny - this album in particular - is a great place for them to change their opinion. Every song is its own, and you'll not mistake one for the other. As the album's cover suggest, there are many atmospheres and textures on this album. Each song is a gem, here.

The colourful and delicate piano really adds another dimension to this great jazz music, Lyle Mays is really noteworthy for his phenomenal job on the keys. Vocals from Cuong Vu (particularly on You) really make the emotional power of the song shine, and further reinforce the already driving melodies. Metheny's skills as a soulful writer are undeniable, and he's able to create some strange sort of nostalgic, intoxicating, and memorable musical landscape. I pity the ears that die afore digesting these sounds.

Report this review (#85607)
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars To me this is Metheny's finest album. It's all about well-composed and clear music with a variety of different styles mixed together. The band makes up a truly amazing ensemble. Though being jazz, at places the music gets extremely atmospheric - even to be compared with some symphonic prog greats. The funny thing about this album is that though ther is singing on the album, not a single word is sung. Hope that some listeners can cope with that.

1. As It Is - Considered by many Metheny fans his best piece and it certainly deserves the compliments. It begins with a calm, cool feeling and has a nice chorus. A perfect example of atmosphere is the piano solo section. Metheny's solo is absolutely mindblowing and wait 'til it reaches the climax - you'd soil yourself and feel happy about it. Somewhat dissapointingly the cherry-on-top is served long before you get the cake, but still the album has much to offer after the first track.

2. Proof - This ones is a typical jazz-fusion piece with a fastpaced tempo and long solos for the's more about improvisation than composition...still delivers great atmospheres.

3. Another Life - I love this beautiful piece. I can sense some renaissance influences in the a capella intro and I'm a great admirer of choral music. The same motive also delivers a great culmination later on in the piece. Pat also presents a beautiful acoustic solo.

4. The Gathering Sky - This one's a fun piece with a Mediterranean and bossa feel to it. Later it turns to your average jazz, but it still ain't that average.

5. You - A beautiful ballad where the singer has the main role. After the singer has finished his part the baton is handed over to Metheny.

6. On Her Way - The piece is a nice mixture of different styles like bossa, pop and jazz.

7. A Place in the World - Yet another great example of atmospheres. This one is a crazy piece..the first part delivers instrumental variations on the theme which lead to a atmospheric highpoint in the piece. Most of the following is jazz impro which is followed by the themes from the beginning and some nutty guitar strumming.

8. Afternoon - I could easily consider this my second favourite piece on the album. It's short, it's simple - it's one of those pieces where you just want to chillax under the sun, enjoy a fine drink and listen to the music.

9. Wherever You Go - This is a great jazz piece. I find something monumental about this last piece and it kinda sums up the album because it doesn't present anything completely new, it just serves the main characteristics that have accompanied you through this album.

Anyhow I certainly recommend this to jazz and prog fans who seek a more atmospheric type of experience and the beautiful musical balance of a perfect ensemble. Maybe it isn't the best album to describe progressive rock, it's a masterpiece nevertheless.

Report this review (#126848)
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars If I have to describe this album I would say guitar driven atmospheric jazz fusion. Really enjoyable and light.One can recognize certain musical style patterns here. Different kinds of melodic voice incantations, nice mellow piano interludes. I will not go piece by piece because most of them have a similar structure and the same level. Even if I have listened to it several times I'm able to remember the style but not any specific part or song. I tend to believe that this was probably the intention because almost all the compositions have that kind of continuous, vague approach. However the music is enjoyable and I would recommend this if you want to relax and to concentrate because it is flowing really good in those kinds of moments.

From a contemporary jazz perspective I would say that this album deserves 4 stars from but from the progressive perspective I will say 3 stars. Not a bad one but sometime too repetitive and predictable.

Report this review (#351844)
Posted Monday, December 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Speaking Of Now' - Pat Metheny Group (5/10)

Here is an album I had high expectations for. After a brilliant earnest introduction to the music of jazz fusion guitarist Pat Metheny with the album 'The Way Up', I was all too eager to look into some of the other music the man had made in more recent years. Seeing a copy of 'Speaking Of Now' checked in at the local public library, I was excited to take this home and give it an intent listen. Unfortunately, the progressive and engaging sound that I was first enchanted with is not here in nearly the sort of degree I would want, instead lending a hand to a banal, albeit very well performed style of smooth jazz. While 'Speaking Of Now' is certainly not a bad album, the somewhat harmless nature of the music leaves something to be desired.

The jazz played here can easily be described as background music; the sort of music that plenty of advertisements or corporations use when they meed a sort of music that won't offend anyone. Here you will hear a very clean sound on the guitar, met with plenty of major chords and soothing, almost ambient vocals. A great piece of music to relax to after a long day yes, but in terms of a full-fledged musical experience? 'Speaking Of Now' hints at brilliance, but it seems to come up short of anything worth being described as a masterpiece.

That being said, the album is saved in no small part due to the consistent and dynamic musicianship of all members involved. Of course, Metheny takes the spotlight here quite a bit more than the others, but overall, the listener is graced with a well-rounded, developed sound that is sure to put a stressed mind at ease. In terms of the compositions, things are kept generally upbeat, with a few tracks (such as the ambient ballad 'You') taking a slower- paced approach. All of the music on 'Speaking Of Now' is defined by its mellowness, which ultimately makes it an album one can only put on, should the mood fit.

While the compositions rarely have any significant or memorable parts to them, it is surprising how complex some of the arrangements can get in the music, considering how inherently mellow and laid-back the music is here. The spotlight here is always on the musicianship though, and regardless of a few more intricate moments to the songwriting, it is hard to praise the composition when it is neither dynamic, energetic, experimental or memorable. It is then the job of the musicians (Metheny included) to devote their efforts in transforming the lifeless arrangements into something that breathes with life. To a mixed extent, they succeeded.

Report this review (#409641)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of Pat & co.'s more pastoral jazz albums, this one does not take the listener into realms of avant or theoretical or chromatic or free jazz, nor does it take us back to bebop or Wes Montgomery, but it is more heavily reliant on acoustic instrumentation that most PMG albums. Even in the album's credits the acoustic instruments are given first citations for each of the individuals involved in the project. Still, you will hear Lyle's familiar/signature synths and Pat's familiar/signature "piccolo trumpet" electric guitar leads but all played over piano, acoustic guitar layers, the amazing Steve Rodby's double bass or cello along with newcomer Antonio Sanchez' drumming. (Shout out to the amazing Paul Wertico! You are the best!) Every song on the album is replete with multiple memorable melodies and gorgeous song structures, stunning solos from Lyle ("Proof"), Pat, all of the vocalists, and trumpeter Cuong Vu.

Great songs: 1. "As It Is" (7:48) which is probably my favorite song on the album (10/10); the more Wes Montgomery-styled, 2. "Proof" (10:09) (9/10); the far-away-romantic, next-the-fireside, 3. "Another Life" (7:08) with its odd almost Gregorian chant vocal interludes (9/10); the wonderfully bucolic, pastoral feeling 7. "A Place in the World" (9:52) a top three song for me (10/10); what sounds like a classic jazz standard--a piece of true ear candy--as if sung by Nat King Cole or Antônio Carlos Jobim but is sung by Cameroon's Richard Bona in a language I don't recognize (what should be French?) 8. "Afternoon" (4:45) (10/10), and; the album's closer, 9. "Wherever You Go" (8:03) a real gorgeous, melodic, low key tune in which all of the band members put on display their mastery of delicate jazz play. (10/10)

Very good songs: 4. "The Gathering Sky" (9:22) which sounds like a piece that Gene Kelley would have used as a film score to choreograph one of his unique dance numbers (8/10); 5. "You" (8:30) which is constructed much as the Brazilian pieces the band did in the 80s like Pedro Aznar's "Más allá (Beyond)" (8/10), and; the standard PMG Latin-tinged Wes Montgomery-sounding piece, 6. "On Her Way" (5:21) (8/10).

A solid, accessible release of jazz in the familiar vein of what Pat Metheny Group has been doing for over twenty-five years only oriented a bit more to the acoustic side of jazz instrumentation and the melodic side of jazz. 4.5 stars rated up for the incomparable standards of technical and melodic virtuosity they uphold for their profession.

Report this review (#464569)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Being a long-time PM/PMG fan this was an album I was very much looking forward to when I became aware of the line-up changes which Pat had made, in particular Antonio Sanchez on drums. I was far from disappointed - all the usual trademarks were there: great, melodic, soaring guitar solos, tasteful accompaniment from Lyle (and some great piano solos from him also), haunting vocals and just some unforgettable, heartbreaking melodies. Unusually for me the whole album resonated with me straightaway - literally on the first listening. Usually it would take me a few listens to "get to grips" with any complex album such as this. Any concerns I had that this would make it an album with no longevity for my own ears were unfounded since it is still one of the PMG albums to which I regularly turn. As usual with PMG I see a few reviews here mentioning the term "smooth jazz" but I would strongly refute this. I really think that those who assess PMG in these terms have not properly listened and appreciated the underlying rhythmical complexities, harmonic richness and sheer melodic invention which pervades everything which Pat Metheny does - which means that it all qualifies as progressive in my book. Only negative aspect is the track "Afternoon" which I think veers a tad close to the smooth jazz end of things - but at least at 4;46 it is mercifully short. Particular favourite tracks are "As It Is"; "Proof" and "Wherever You Go" - the last of which regularly brings me to tears.
Report this review (#502313)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars 6/10

"Speaking Of Now" is a forgettable and at the same time unforgettable album for Pat Metheny.

"Speaking Of Now is one of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny's most recent albums, precisely 2002. As we all know this musician is known among the jazz community as a constant innovator concerning his own sound, morphing differently from album to album. But, to my surprise, I find "Speaking Of Now" something that I've heard before from this musician.

When I first listened to "Still Life (Talking)", (by Pat) released in the late eighties, I was convinced that it was of much more recent years, because it's sound was strikingly similar to "Speaking Of Now": both of them had vocals in more than one spot, both of them are largely influenced by Fusion, as also many of his albums were. But the similarity of those two pretty similar albums, very separate in time, made me praise "Still Life (Talking)" and criticize "Speaking Of Now": on this album, I didn't hear a thing that was new to me. However, I can't deny the enjoyment I had by listening to this, in few spots quite a bit, others most definitely less. Highlight tracks include songs like the ten minute "Proof", greatly structured, and the opener "As It Is". The other songs have some high points, as well as low ones. But the thing that did it for me, the thing that turned me on about these songs, are the vocals, which give in my opinion a very precious addiction to the music.

Overall, a decent album, but nothing really special at all, something that honestly didn't do anything for me, if not some enjoyment. It is yet another Pat Metheny obscure little album that has shining moments, but nothing at all that makes it an essential listen. Forgettable in a way, unforgettable in another.

Report this review (#566723)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink

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