“I had the chance to lead a life as a musician where I was able to approach, consider and deepen very diverse subjects and issues,” Pat Metheny told AFP.
At 67, the artist is in concert on Saturday in Paris (Olympia), where he has not played for five years, as part of a world tour of around sixty dates until October.
From the beginning, Pat Metheny was passionate about the sounds he could get from a guitar and, very quickly, his Gibson was no longer enough for him.
From his second album, “Watercolors”, published in 1976, he also discovered all the possibilities that synthesizers could offer him.
“He did a lot for the guitar, for modern music,” John McLaughlin, a British jazz-fusion guitarist, told AFP. “In the early 80s, he had already done a strange job, with the two amps on stage, oriented especially to obtain this kind of panorama of sound.”
This detail shows the perfectionism of this man from Missouri who refuses, 47 years after his first record in 1975, at only 21 years old, any form of sclerosis.
Among his finds: the use and improvement of a guitar-synth or the invention with a Canadian luthier of the Pikasso guitar with 42 strings and several necks, with a cubist aspect.
In the early 2010s, he took his experiments even further with the Orchestrion, a giant machine whose strange robot-instruments he animated using pedals connected to his guitar.
All this work as a sound architect, Pat Metheny has always tried to put it at the service of a real musical project.
“For me, music implies the possibility of understanding things. Things that go far beyond the music itself”, he says.
This relaxed character with his checkered shirts, sailor sweaters, jeans and lion’s mane, is a past master in the art of telling stories, triggering emotions, taking his audience to distant galaxies by drawing from his guitars celestial melodies.
“Beyond the guitarist, there is the musician, able to ignore the guitar to access the stage above, to everything that allows you to reach intensity”, underlines guitarist Sylvain Luc.
The fields of investigation he explores are multiple. Pat Metheny could not be satisfied with jazz, where he measured himself against the greatest, as the only vector of his art.
The one who claims as influences as much the Beatles as Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis or James Taylor, has reconciled lovers of jazz, folk, rock, Californian pop, new age… Which explains his popularity and his enormous hit.
“He always went elsewhere to feed his jazz in a different way, while being very anchored in his traditional folk roots”, notes Sylvain Luc.
With his phrasing as a common thread, his art of legato consisting in linking the notes, which constitutes his DNA.
“The first time I heard it, in a quartet with Gary Burton (vibraphonist), I had already been struck by the fluidity of the sound and this work around the timbre”, confirms Sylvain Luc.
Multicard, Pat Metheny however defends himself from any dispersion.
“The playing environments I’ve put together over the years are all different versions of my vision of what my music can be,” he says.
“Some musicians move through life like a molting snake, moving from one thing to another. For me, it’s more of a process of adding on top of a pre-existing structure, like adding extensions to a house.”