The only thing, from my standpoint, that I can do is sort of, as my dad always said, ‘play the odds.’ I know in my case that the odds are better that I’m going to be able to get to that if I warm up for two hours before. They have three children and enjoy taking them to the city’s numerous museums.
I think all you can do is hope for the best, play the odds, and in the case of music be a real good listener. And when he’s off the road, the jazz legend goes out to hear music – classical music.
The “zone” that creative people speak of, when one soars to a higher level, is definitely familiar to Metheny.
“The best musicians I know are also, without exception, the best listeners,” he feels. I’ve never experienced it to the degree that I did with that band.
But two albums later, The Pat Metheny Group landed the guitarist on the covers of Downbeat and Musician.
And his group – Metheny, keyboardist Lyle Mays, bassist Mark Egan, and drummer Danny Gotlieb – were as close to rock stars as any jazz combo of the past four decades.
“But the objective, like you see in sports, where somebody’s going to hit eight three-pointers in a row, that thing is for real. Just a magical combination of people, and it was pretty exciting knowing that we were going to get to that.” On the surface, someone who plays 160 concerts nearly nonstop, each typically around three hours, not counting his two-hour warm-up regimen, would seem like a driven workaholic.
For me, it’s been kind of a mandate of the gig to get to there every night, no matter what. But Metheny and his wife of 20 years live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Growing up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, a small suburb of Kansas City, he took up guitar at 13.
By his senior year of high school, he was flirting with flunking out because, he admits, he hadn’t taken a book home since seventh grade; instead, he was practicing 20 hours a day.
But far from a novelty, Metheny’s array – several pianos, drum kits, bells, marimbas, “guitar-bots,” dozens of percussion instruments, as well as carefully tuned bottles – was triggered by his guitar, programmed to follow his lead.
Metheny has worked with a who’s who of jazz and non-jazz luminaries, including Burton, Pastorius, Kenny Garrett, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden, Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, Steve Swallow, Abbey Lincoln, Jack De Johnette, Dewey Redman, Joshua Redman, Roy Haynes, Brad Mehldau, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Tony Williams, Bob Moses, David Bowie, John Zorn, Eberhard Weber, Milton Nascimento, Chick Corea, the Heath Brothers, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson, Cassandra Wilson, Bruce Hornsby, Steve Reich, and brother/trumpeter Mike Metheny.
Ideas and the fundamentals of music – time and harmony and melody – transcend any particular instrument.