In November 22 years ago, The Pat Metheny Group was touring, promoting their album (Still Life) Talking.
During the tour the band was working on a song called E-Waltz. Pat said they called it that because, 10 it was a waltz, a 2) the note “E” was in every harmony in the song. This song freaked me out. It was the only time I went to the same show the next night just to hear one song.
I heard the song again that tour at a Philadelphia theater that sat around 3,000, and the acoustics made the song ring in a slow peace after the usual “warmup” song of the time, Phase Dance, which was later shelved for Have You Heard in 1989. It’s been Pat’s habit with the band to play a slow song after a burning opener.
Four years after the Radio City Show, Pat released the song with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes in a cold, fast way. It did not have that voice, or “cry” as Pat has said:
“To me, in order to play the blues and make it have meaning, you have to tell your own story in your own words. To adapt the mannerisms, techniques and, ‘idiomatic effects’ of a master and ape them in the name of authenticity to a convoluted (and usually leaned) ideal of a ‘pure’ style is to automatically disqualify yourself from singing your own song. For me, everything I play is the blues, –that ism it is the cry, the manifestation of my own personal relationship with music.”
I most love pat’s composing and playing for its cry, Pat’s ability to make the guitar speak. The only song not in the Pat Metheny Songbook not included was the only song Bela Fleck, another if lesser genius, still, a genius,
is the song Au Lait, tempo maps of which are found elsewhere on this site. I remember drinking a beer, again, in November, and coming home from my intern job with Congressman Green in DC, passing the White House on my way home to Rockville, Maryland at night. I looked out at the surreal Pennsylvania Avenue and as the atonal section gave way to the bossa nova circle of 5ths section in G minor, I was stunned to a point of “never before, never since,” in terms of Pat’s ability to communicate more of and atmosphere with one note than with any syllable.
Anyway, Pat, if you send me a copy of the OLD “E Waltz” (working title for Lye Mays, Steve Rodby, Paul Wertico), I will gift out $120 worth of Pat Metheny recordings from iTunes or Amazon. I am not kidding. I think it’s a win-win very Obama like deal!
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November 26, 2009