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Pat Metheny - The Way Up - Live CD (album) cover


Pat Metheny

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars Let's make no bones about it. THE WAY UP is a continuous one-hour PROGRESSIVE suite, and probably the greatest instrumental suite in prog since the days of RELAYER and OMMADAWN. To be sure, you'll find quite a bit of (superb) jazzy playing here, but hey, CLOSE TO THE EDGE has its jazzy moments too, and THE WAY UP is characterised just as much by heavy rock riffing, Steve Reich style minimalism (never for long, though) and breezy romanticism that brings to mind the symphonies of Mendelssohn and Schubert. Its long sweep, its spun-out climaxes, its constant ebb and flow, its irregular meters and its many sudden tempo changes will all remind you of classic prog. Listeners who adore Metheny's traditionalist jazz side may have a hard time with this one: Pat switches from acoustic to electric guitars so often you can't keep up and pianist Lyle Mays remains half hidden behind a Wakemanesque battery of keyboards; all he lacks is a glitter cape.

When the CD version of THE WAY UP came out, I found it immensely intriguing (and awarded it five stars) but one thing kept bugging me: it sounded a little clinical at times, the fire and the passion which characterise Metheny's best albums seemed to be missing. That's why I wrote THE WAY UP was perfect music to go jogging with. But that problem has now triumphantly been solved, thanks to the live context. The Korean audience encourage Metheny and his band to give the fieriest performance you could imagine. THE WAY UP has grown wings. If you know the studio version, THAT was nothing. An already great album has now been infested with demonic energy. Moreover, the camera work is superb, illuminating the finesses of the band's playing at exactly the right moments.

Admirers of the Pat Metheny Group will need no encouragement: for them, this is purely and simply a must-own. I only hope other progheads will also discover the glories of Metheny's (and Mays') masterpiece.

Report this review (#161674)
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars After 30 years of prog listening i'd never heard of Pat Metheny. Probably because i had never explored Prog outside of the usual suspects. Yes Genesis Elp Floyd etc. To my mind one of the downsides of Yes is that almost everything i heard paled in comparison to the classics from the 70's. Last year a friend handed me PMG's Secret Story and First Circle. The latter captivated me in particular as it seemed a curious mix of modern Jazz and symphonic Prog. Blissful and a real surprise. Recently I decided to explore a bit more and the only thing in my local store was the way up on DVD. What a marvelous surprise. Simply stunning musicianship from this band. The symphonic suite has many facets some of which are outbreaks of modern jazz stylings, but overall this concert does not feel like a jazz concert but does feel like a rendering of Topographic oceans or Suppers ready such is the long continuous flow to the piece. My only gripe with this DVD concert is that the last movement takes you on a sweeping journey much like And You and I or Awaken but unfortunately ends when you would happily listen to another hour. Glorious stuff. 9/10
Report this review (#165811)
Posted Sunday, April 6, 2008 | Review Permalink

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