Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Music of Pat Metheny - Minuano 6/8

Eventually, it had to happen. I had to dig up one track that is quintessentially a Pat Metheny Group number. This is typically the 2nd part of his famous "Metheny Medley" (Phase Dance - Minuano (6/8) - September 15th - First Circle...), and even continues to maintain that position in his newest Sessions rendition.

It certainly was a hard track to come by because this is one of those long form songs, which begins one way, and midway transforms into a whole other creation. I was lucky to run across it as a snippet from a fan's playlist on Pat Metheny Radio on the PMG website. (Un)fortunately, the snippet was from the second portion of the song past the 2:45 mark - similar to what he uses in his medley - thus, it is one that you're likely to miss unless you're patient enough.

Coming from the "Still Life (Talking)" album of 1987, this song reflects some of the group's earlier Brazilian influence from around the period; it also includes the incorporation of wordless vocals in its composition. The song starts off with an eerie portion of humming set against a nondescript instrumental background that steadily increases in complexity; there is an ebb-and-flow of the guitar, piano and other percussion elements as something buoying the humming, but not entirely sounding unified at first; this then builds up around the 2:45 mark, where we swing from the crescendo of the humming into a beautiful samba bass line.

From here, the guitar, piano and whistling spell out the Minuano melody, and in the next line the vocals reiterate the same phrasing. This is the preamble to Metheny's tasteful solo (more restrained in the album version, but a tad more explosive in varied live playings of this song). We then delve back into the minuano melody, which is used as a bridge to a delightful percussion breakdown: the Marimba stands front-and-centre with notable backing from castanets and the piano; for its second spin, the drums are brought in and the bass accent a few notes, and lastly, third time around, they are joined by Metheny's guitar which seems to resonate exactly with Steve Rodby's Bass playing. With the whole band back in play, Lyle Mays builds up the next bridge section to sound like a brass heavy affair, and then we find ourselves back in the Minuano melody proper till the song's conclusion.

Clocking in at a decent 9:28, this song is a masterpiece. It actually seems much shorter when you play it out, but it is immensely enjoyable through and through. Many versions of it abound, especially some live versions (We Live Here & Imaginary Day DVDs) where the intro session is cut out and they just get down to business. Also available is the Pat Metheny + Metropole Orchestra version adapted by Pat for a massive ensemble.

Whichever version you view, I hope it proves as much a feast for your senses as it has for mine over the years.

God Bless

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